NHS Trust promises changes after four-year-old’s death from sepsis

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 July 2019

Medical care lessons need to be learned after the tragic death of little Kessie, say lawyers. Picture: Thomas Family

Medical care lessons need to be learned after the tragic death of little Kessie, say lawyers. Picture: Thomas Family


The tragic and needless sepsis death of a four-year-old girl has helped force the NHS to be more aware of the condition.

Kessie Thomas was rushed to Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, on April 9, 2017, with a high temperature, and a heart rate of 178 beats per minutes, having suffered convulsions.

She had been born with a heart condition and her mother Marie was particularly concerned about her symptoms.

However, after receiving a dose of Calpol and Ibuprofen to help bring her temperature down, the family was sent home in the early hours of April 10.

The next day, Kessie suffered a cardiac arrest caused by septicaemia after Marie took her back to hospital.

An emergency transfer to Evelina Children's Hospital failed to save her, and she died that day having suffered severe brain damage, a firm of lawyers representing the family revealed.

The family have welcomed a report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sepsis, which described sepsis as a "hugely under-acknowledged" condition.

The report said more work was needed to raise awareness of sepsis, which claims the lives of at least 46,000 people in the UK each year.

Committee chairman Christina Rees MP wrote: "Despite many people never having heard of the condition, often referred to as a 'silent killer', it is the most common reason for intensive care admissions in England, more prevalent than heart attacks and claims more lives than any cancer."

The devastated parents of little Kessie said she died from sepsis within days of being discharged from A&E with just a dose of Calpol and Ibuprofen.

In the wake of this new parliamentary report, they have spoken of their heartbreak in the hope that lessons learned will be shared across the NHS.

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Marie, 36, now lives with her husband David, a delivery driver, and their daughter Kimberlie in Purley, Surrey.

She said: "Nothing can compare to the death of a child. We have been left devastated by Kessie's death and it is impossible to imagine how we will ever move on from what has happened."

A narrative verdict was recorded at an inquest last November saying she died from cardiac arrest and sepsis.

Marie added: There is every reason to believe that if Kessie had been kept in hospital for observations overnight she would still be with us today. Her condition would have been monitored, and the medical staff would have been on hand to treat the sepsis much sooner.

"We want the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust to share the lessons that they have learnt from their investigations with all Trust's across the country so that no one need suffer the way we have in the future."

Rebecca Brunton at Simpson Millar, said: "To have lost Kessie under such difficult circumstances has, understandably, left the family devastated.

"Since her death in 2017 they have been desperate for answers as to whether more could, and should, have been done to save their daughter - and an internal investigation carried out by the Trust has identified a number of failings.

"Now that the Trust has admitted fault it is absolutely imperative that lessons learnt are acted upon and shared throughout the NHS to ensure that future suffering is prevented.

"It is their hope that by speaking out no one will have to go through what they have faced over the last few years."

The Gravesham and Dartford NHS Trust said: "Losing a child at any time is tragic and we have looked in depth at the treatment Kessie received at the hospital in 2017.

"We acknowledge that we did not get it right for Kessie and have instituted several actions since to improve awareness, identification and treatment of sepsis. We would like to send again our condolences and apologies to Kessie's parents."

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