Woman told to “go home and take paracetamol” by GP nearly dies from sepsis

A woman was left in a coma for four weeks and at one point given just three days to live after she contracted sepsis following a gastric sleeve operation.

Laura Battrum, from King’s Heath, has now won a payout after suing her GP over the traumatising ordeal, according to Birmingham Live.

The 38-year-old weighed 22 stone when she made the decision to undergo weight loss surgery in the hope of her increasing chances of getting pregnant back in January 2017.

However, she later visited her doctor due to feeling severely unwell following the operation.

Despite presenting all the tell-tale signs of sepsis, she was simply told to “go home and take paracetamol”.

About a week later, Laura – who lost 10 stone following the procedure – was taken to hospital with a perforated bowel.

She was placed in an induced coma and spent four months at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital as doctors battled to save her life.

At one point, she was given just three days to live and she now has a permanent stoma bag which needs changing up to 12 times a day.

She said: “At first I thought my pain must just have been me recovering from the sleeve surgery.

“However it seemed to be getting worse. It got to the point where I was struggling to remain conscious so Steve called an ambulance.

Laura and her partner Steve.

“After that I don’t really remember anything until I was brought out of my coma.

“It was then when the reality of how seriously ill I had been hit. The doctors said it really had been touch and go whether I was going to make it.

“Life has been a struggle ever since. I still suffer from fatigue and tire really easily. I’m conscious of my stoma.

“We can’t be spontaneous and just go off for the day. If I want to go out I have to plan everything in advance and know what facilities are close by.

Laura originally decided to undergo weight loss surgery in a bid to increase her chances of starting a family.
Laura originally decided to undergo weight loss surgery in a bid to increase her chances of starting a family.

“Me and Steve always wanted a family and thought the surgery would be the start of a new part of our lives.

“However, doctors have told me that I will struggle to conceive naturally because of my injuries so the only option is IVF.

“I’ve also been told that the chances of that being successful are also greatly reduced because of what I’ve been through.

“We always wanted two children but to now think that we may not be able to have any is incredibly upsetting.

“I did not really know much about sepsis and how dangerous it can be before I fell ill.

“I now just want others to realise how dangerous it can be and how important it is to be aware of the possibly signs of the condition.”

Laura underwent gastric sleeve surgery on January, 3 2017, and was discharged the following day.

But four days later she developed a rash on her hands and started complaining of pain when urinating.

Laura, who also felt tired and lethargic, visited a GP two days later when the rash started spreading. She was prescribed steroids used to treat allergies.

Steve, 40, made an emergency GP appointment for Laura on January 20 concerned that she had a fever, was breathless and needed to be supported to stand up.

Laura now has a permanent stoma bag which needs changing up to 12 times a day.
Laura now has a permanent stoma bag which needs changing up to 12 times a day.

Over the coming days Laura’s condition continued to deteriorate and Steve phoned the NHS 111 helpline on January 29.

Laura was taken to hospital by ambulance and was diagnosed with a perforated bowel following tests.

She had emergency surgery in the early hours of January 30 and underwent six further procedures to remove infected tissue from her body.

Laura was woken from her coma on February 27 and discharged home on May 23, 2017.

She was in and out of hospital for the rest of 2017 due to illness and problems with her stoma.

She continues to suffer with mobility problems and fatigue.

Laura couldn’t return to her job as a health and social assessor for two years.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Laura said the GP, through their insurer, agreed an undisclosed settlement after they had denied liability.

They argued that during the appointment of January 20, 2017, the GP failed to carry out a number of crucial tests, including taking Laura’s blood pressure.

Jennifer Shipley, expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Laura hoped undergoing surgery would help her and Steve realise their dream of becoming parents.

“However, this hasn’t happened with Laura spending the last few years trying to come to terms with the physical and psychological impact sepsis has had on her life.

“While nothing can make up for what’s happened, we’re pleased to have secured Laura this settlement, allowing her to access the ongoing care and support she needs and which we hope will now allow her to try and look to the future.

“Sepsis is an incredibly dangerous condition which can lead to devastating consequences.

“We join Laura in urging everyone to be aware of the signs of sepsis. Early detection and treatment are key to beating it.

“The doctor did not investigate further to rule out or diagnose potential sepsis nor did they refer Laura to hospital for further investigations.”

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