Wakefield dad permanently paralysed after three hour delay in treating sepsis

A Wakefield dad-of-three is warning of the dangers of sepsis after a three hour delay in diagnosis left him permanently paralysed.

By Leanne Clarke
Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 10:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 10:40 am

Richard Saberton, from Horbury, underwent a triage assessment after being admitted to Pinderfields Hospital in November 2016.

The results indicated he was suffering from sepsis – where the body attacks itself in response to an infection. However, he wasn’t administered antibiotics for another three hours.

A few days later, Richard was unable to walk and also complained of weak arms. An MRI scan found he had a spinal abscess, which required decompression surgery.

Richard Saberton.

He has been left with irreversible paralysis.

Following his operation, Richard, 71, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust which runs Pinderfields.

The legal team successfully secured a settlement for Richard which will ensure he has access to the ongoing specialist therapies and treatment he requires.

This came after the Hospital Trust admitted that Richard should have started receiving intravenous antibiotics within “about one hour” of being assessed, as per the sepsis protocol.

Richard and his family.

The funds have also helped provide Richard with a new home adapted to fit his needs, which he and his wife Lynn, 72, moved into last month.

He is now joining with his legal team in marking World Sepsis Day by raising awareness of the symptoms of the life-threatening condition.

Rachelle Mahapatra, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who represented Richard, said: “Richard’s life was turned upside down in the space of a few days and he and his family have struggled to come to terms with what happened to him.

“While nothing can change what he’s been through, we’re pleased to have been able to secure a settlement which will help him access the care he needs to live as independently as possible. To hear that he’s also now moved into his adapted home is great news. His new home will allow him to live a much more independent life.

“Through our work, we sadly come across a number of people who have been affected by sepsis. It’s vital that people are aware of the symptoms, as early detection and treatment is key to beating it.

“World Sepsis Day seemed a fitting time for Richard to share his story to raise awareness of the potential dangers.”

Richard was taken to hospital by ambulance on November 5, 2016, complaining of neck and shoulder pain, as well as confusion and difficulty with speaking.

He was assessed and should have been administered antibiotics within one hour of arrival. However, he was left waiting almost three-and-a-half hours.

Almost five years on, Richard, a former construction manager, remains paralysed from the waist down and suffers from weakness in his arms.

As well as having a new adapted home, he’s supported greatly by Lynn and their three children – Robert, 35, Richard, 34 and Sara, 32.

Richard said: “It’s been almost five years since my paralysis and it’s taken a long time for me to adjust to not being able to do a lot of what I used to.

“I used to be a keen cook and gardener, and liked to travel a lot, but I’m much more restricted in what I can do now and rely on Lynn and our children for most of it.

“I still struggle to come to terms with what happened. Thankfully, the support I’ve had has got me through and now we have our new home which makes it much easier for me to get about.

“I know there’s nothing I can do to change what happened, so all I want to do now is warn others of what to look out for when it comes to sepsis and how important it is for it to be treated early. I wouldn’t want others going through what I have.”

David Melia, Director of Nursing and Quality, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We aim to provide the best care and treatment for our patients and are sorry about what has happened to Mr Saberton.

“It is good to hear that he has now been able to move to a specially adapted property which will enable him to lead a more independent life.

“As a Trust we support World Sepsis Day every year, helping to raise the awareness of it amongst our community and colleagues.

“Sepsis training is now mandatory for all Trust nursing staff, there are sepsis champions on each ward and there is a sepsis quality improvement programme across all wards. Compliance is audited and constantly monitored so that action can be taken swiftly should the need arise.

“We wish Mr Saberton well for the future and are grateful to him for using his own situation to help raise the awareness of sepsis.”

World Sepsis Day is on September 13 and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against sepsis.

Signs of sepsis include slurred speech, confusion, extreme shivering and muscle pain, passing no urine in a day, severe breathlessness and mottled or discoloured skin.

For more information visit www.sepsistrust.org.