Published: 09:36, 10 September 2020
| Updated: 17:38, 11 September 2020
A hospital trust has admitted a man suffering from sepsis sent home from A&E may still be alive if he was kept in for further tests.
Stephen Corke, a grandfather of seven, was working on a construction site near Tunbridge Wells when a pneumatic drill fell on his right foot in August 2018.
He was taken to Pembury Hospital where he was sent home with painkillers and crutches when he should have been kept in, hospital bosses now admit.
Less than two days later, the 60 year old died.
In a legal dispute with the family's lawyers, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) acknowledged it breached its duty of care towards Mr Corke saying if he had been admitted, he probably would have survived. The legal case is ongoing.
It added further monitoring and inflammation markers would have alerted staff to the fact that he had an infection and he would have received antibiotics.
Although he would have still needed surgery to remove infected tissue, it's likely he would still be alive.
Instead, Mr Corke who felt shivery and described his pain as a 10/10 was given morphine and discharged once it was established his foot was not fractured.
The next day he was taken to a hospital close to his home in Suffolk where he underwent emergency surgery but died the following morning.
A spokesperson for MTW said: “We are very sorry for the tragic loss of Mr Corke and send our heartfelt and deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
“While no words can adequately address their loss, we carefully reviewed Mr Corke’s care and are taking steps to ensure lessons are learnt by our clinical teams.”
With world sepsis day on Sunday, Mr Corke's wife Gillian is using her husband's story to warn others of the dangers of the condition which sees the body attack itself after an infection.
Mrs Corke said: “Steve was fit and active. He was a loving, caring and considerate husband and a real family man.
“He was our rock and everyone’s hero. He was always there to come to our rescue and sort us out; whether it was running out of petrol, problems with technology or fixing leaking pipes.
"He was a real problem solver and nothing was too much bother for him.
“He loved music, football, cricket and scuba diving and would always go on a big diving trip each year.
“When I saw Steve I knew immediately that he wasn’t right. I could see how red and swollen his leg was and that he needed to get to hospital.
“Once I took him to hospital I can’t thank the doctors enough for everything they tried to do to help Steve but by then it was too late.
“What makes his death harder to accept is that Steve would still be with us if his condition had been spotted sooner.
“Steve was a genuinely wonderful man. We just hope we can honour his memory by making people understand how dangerous sepsis is and raising awareness of its symptoms.”
Signs include slurred speech, confusion, extreme shivering and muscle pain, passing no urine in a day, severe breathlessness and mottled or discoloured skin.
Anna Vroobel, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Mr Corke's family said: “Steve’s death vividly highlights the devastating consequences of sepsis and how early detection and treatment are so important. Whilst Gill and her family are still coming to terms with the loss of Steve, we welcome the Trust’s admission of liability.
“Sepsis is incredibly dangerous but it can be treatable if diagnosed early. It’s absolutely vital that lessons are learned from Steve’s death so that others don’t have to face the heartbreak that Gill and her family have.”
An Irwin Mitchell spokesman added: "We are still working with the trust to conclude the case."