A family has been awarded a £415,000 pay-out after doctors failed to spot a mum was suffering from a ’flesh-eating disease’.
Helen Edgar, 41 died just a week after she was admitted to hospital complaining of a headache and severe pain under her right arm.
The mum-of-two also had a shoulder pain she thought may have resulted from stretching to reach a cupboard.
Medics failed to identify the rare bacterial infection, necrotising fasciitis, which caused her to suffer from multiple organ failure.
She died on May 26, 2013, despite doctors performing exploratory surgery and rejecting the possibility she could be suffering from the condition.
Helen’s husband Ian, 48, described how she could “still be here with us today had it not been for the hospital’s negligence”.
He said: “I was with her throughout the whole time she was in hospital.
“Although I kept pleading for the hospital staff to help they did not seem to listen and I felt as though I was standing watching her die.
“I still have visions of Helen suffering in hospital.
“The images of her last days when the pain was so visible will not leave me for the rest of my life.
“I have lost my wife and my best friend and my children have lost their loving and caring mum.
“It has been very difficult for me to come to terms with Helen’s death because she could still be here with us today had it not been for the hospital’s negligence.”
On Monday, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust admitted full liability for repeatedly overlooking signs leading to the fatal disease.
A hearing at the High Court heard how On 18 May, 2013, Helen suddenly became ill on May 18, 2013.
The following afternoon she attended the accident and emergency department at West Suffolk Hospital, complaining of pain in moving her right arm.
She was diagnosed with having a sprain and sent home with anti-inflammatory drugs.
She returned to hospital again the next night and admitted as the shoulder and breast pain had worsened and she was suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.
Helen was treated for suspected blood clots.
Helen’s condition worsened within hours and her temperature and heart rate increased.
She was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit and sent for a CT scan.
Doctors discussed a possible diagnosis of necrotising fasciitis but this was rejected following exploratory surgery.
In the early hours of May 25, concerns were raised that Helen may be suffering from the infection.
She was transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge the same day where exploratory surgery found extensive necrotising fasciitis in Helen’s right side of her body and lower left abdomen.
The infection was treated, however, her condition worsened and she died just before 2am on May 26, 2013.
Ian, a carpenter for MLD Suffolk District Council, said: “Helen was the complete bedrock of our family and she held everything together.
“It is difficult to put into words the devastating effect Helen’s death has had on our family.
“I have been completely traumatised by the sudden loss of my wife and I cannot see an end to the pain and suffering that I encounter every day.
“We had the rest of our lives to spend together which has now been snatched away from us. Nothing can turn the clock back.
“I just hope that lessons have been learned so no other families have to endure the heart-break we have had to go through following Helen’s death.”
Alexandra Winch, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell solicitors who represented the family, said: “The failure of doctors to diagnose Helen’s necrotising fasciitis and debride the effected tissue had catastrophic consequences for the family.
“Four years on they are still struggling to come to terms with how, just days after complaining of shoulder pain, a much-loved wife and mum died.
“Hospitals have a duty of care to look after patients and tragically, in Helen’s case, the level of care she received fell below what people should expect.
“Nothing can make up for the family’s loss or bring Helen back but we are grateful that the Trust has admitted liability.
“It now vital that the Trust ensures measures are in place to prevent a repeat of Helen’s unnecessary death and the subsequent pain the family have gone through.”
Helen’s husband and her two children, Kyle, 24, and Kayleigh, 17, live in Stowmarket, Suffolk.