Avoidable death following failure to diagnose urinary blockage leading to sepsis

01 March 2022

The deceased, SH, was 55 years old when she was admitted to hospital for an elective reconstruction of a wound on her left knee.
Avoidable death following failure to diagnose urinary blockage leading to sepsis

Shoosmiths Solicitors specialist clinical negligence team recently secured settlement in a case relating to the death of SH, a 55 year old woman, who was admitted to hospital for an elective reconstruction of a wound on her left knee. She had previously undergone left total knee replacement and had incurred problems with wound breakdown following that surgery. 

Her vital signs pre-operation were recorded as normal, and the anaesthetist noted the presence of a urinary catheter in situ. SH was under general anaesthetic from 09:15am until 7:15pm and received intravenous fluids throughout the course of the procedure.

The following morning, SH was showing signs of sepsis including an elevated white blood count and a raised temperature. A consultant reviewed SH’s deteriorating condition, noting that there was no urine output since before the start of the operation the previous day. A plan was documented for the need for antibiotics at 10:30am. However, antibiotics were not commenced until 5pm.

It was subsequently confirmed by a consultant in Urology that SH’s stoma was blocked and noted ‘infected urine’. Unfortunately, she developed multi-organ failure including refractory shock, renal failure and respiratory failure due to the infection and associated sepsis and sadly passed away.

SH’s husband, PH, instructed Sharon Banga, Birmingham based clinical negligence expert at Shoosmiths to investigate potential failures in his wife’s treatment. Medical investigations took place including review of records, and independent expert evidence was obtained which showed there was no documentation of urine output during the operation, which was contrary to standard practice, particularly considering the volume of fluids administered.

Sharon fought to pursue the case which was defended, until shortly before settlement of the claim.  A full admission of liability from the hospital trust was eventually received with respect to their failure to monitor SH’s urine output and the delay in diagnosing sepsis. It was accepted that these basic failures in care led to her death. PH received an apology for errors in his wife’s treatment and achieved financial settlement with the assistance of Sharon and the team at Shoosmiths Serious Injury.   

Sharon comments:

“There were basic errors in the care provided to SH in this case which were clear upon consideration of her medical records and even more so, upon receipt of our expert medical evidence. It is disappointing that the hospital trust involved failed to make an early full admission, but I am glad that we managed to achieve this for our client after persevering with the case. 

“I know that it has meant a lot to him to receive this acknowledgement to enable him to achieve some element of closure.”



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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