A devastated husband whose says his pregnant wife died following delays in critical treatment has launched a civil action against Croydon NHS.
Fauzia Khan, 43, was 16 weeks pregnant when she suffered a septic miscarriage and died from multiple organ failure after undergoing two serious operations on November 27 2013.
An inquest into her death found that her chances of survival would have increased had medics administered the drug misoprostol, used to induce labour and abortions, earlier. However the coroner said she couldn’t be certain this action would have saved Khan’s life.
Husband Muhammad Masood Khalid, who quit his job at a marketing company after his wife’s death to become a full-time dad to their two children and three foster children, said: “I have always believed that, had action been taken quicker, my wife would still be here with us.
“Remembering her in so much pain still haunts me everyday,” he added.
Mrs Khan attended the emergency department at Croydon University Hospital on November 24 with a suspected urine infection, but was told to return the next day because the consulting doctor was not trained to carry out scans, despite Mrs Khan voicing concerns that she was losing her baby.
Two days later, Mrs Khan returned to A&E after she started bleeding and experiencing stomach pains.
She was found to have suffered a septic miscarriage, which is where the foetus becomes infected, but due to a “lack of communication” there was a delay of several hours before she was administered misoprostol to induce labour.
The inquest revealed that she had agreed to treatment at 5pm. She received the drug at 2am the next day, by which time she had become critically ill.
Mr Khalid said that his wife had been left “screaming with pain” in intensive care, during this time.
Her condition deteriorated as a result of the nine-hour delay, and she was rushed into surgery to have an emergency hysterotomy, similar to a Caesarean.
Due to complications, it was decided she then needed a hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the womb.
Unfortunately, it was too late. The sepsis has spread and Mrs Khan died the following day.
Mr Khalid said he was angry and felt let down by Croydon NHS.
“The coroner said there should be no case involving a fit young woman dying in these circumstances in countries like the UK in the 21st century,” he said. “You put your trust in the medical professional and expect them to do what’s best for you, but they let us down.
“In my opinion, they just chose to leave my wife to die there while they were busy looking after other patients.”
Mr Khalid, who married his wife in Pakistan in 2007 and moved to Croydon the following year, has now instructed lawyers to bring legal action against Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, which runs the hospital.
Clinical negligence specialist Paul Sankey, representing the family, said: “We have serious concerns about the way Mrs Khan’s care was handled and will continue to pursue justice for Mr Khalid and his family.”
Croydon NHS said they have made “far-reaching” changes to prevent something like this happening again.
Dr Nnenna Osuji, Medical Director at the Trust, said: “This was a truly tragic event.
“Whilst the coroner found that Mrs Khan’s death may not have been avoided […] we are committed to making every change we can to reduce the chance of something like this ever happening again.
“We have started a campaign within the hospital to raise awareness of sepsis, our electronic patient records system now flags up patients with signs of sepsis, and our doctors now carry pocket cards to help diagnose conditions such as sepsis more quickly.”
A two-day inquest into Mrs Khan’s death took place at Croydon Coroner’s Court last month found that she died as a result of ‘overwhelming sepsis.’
Coroner Dr Adela Williams said Mrs Khan’s chances of survival would have increased had misoprostol been administered earlier, although she couldn’t be certain that it would have saved her life.
Mr Khalid said that life had been “very difficult” since his wife’s death.
“Fauzia was a loving wife, mother and foster mother who was always happiest at home looking after her family,” he said. “We have struggled without her and our lives will never be the same again.
“Nothing can bring her back, but my hope is that lessons are learned and action is taken so we can prevent this tragedy from happening to anyone else.”
Croydon NHS has been in the spotlight in the past week following a CQC inspection that flagged up concerns about staff shortages and faulty theatre equipment.
Mrs Khan died just two months after Madhumita Mandal, 30, also died of multiple organ failure caused by sepsis.