THE family of a 21-year-old man who died after Tunbridge Wells Hospital failed to correctly diagnose he was suffering from sepsis, is taking legal advice on reaching a settlement with the NHS trust.
Former Bennett Memorial pupil Timothy Mason was taken to the hospital in the early hours of March 16 with flu-like symptoms but was discharged without further treatment just after 8am, despite telling doctors he ‘felt like he was dying’.
Mr Mason, who lived in Tunbridge Wells with his mother Fiona and father Gavin, was rushed back to the Accident and Emergency department at 3pm for the second time that day where he was appropriately treated.
But the trainee electrical engineer, who also left behind two brothers Alex 27 and Nick 23, died hours later following a cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure.
His mother described watching in ‘absolute horror’ as her son’s health rapidly deteriorated.
Mrs Mason told an inquest last week how she took her son to the hospital after he began to vomit ‘violently’ adding: “it was a mother’s instinct that this was not normal.”
She spoke of her son’s fear, explaining: “He was frightened and expressed this to both me and his doctor. He said he felt like he was dying.”
However, his doctors said he had a virus and the symptoms would get worse before they got better and he could be discharged.
He was handed a referral letter so he would be seen immediately if he felt worse but when he came back to the emergency department seven hours later – in so much pain he could not walk or sit up – he was made to wait to be seen, the hearing was told.
Mrs Mason ‘begged’ receptionists to let her son see a doctor but was still told to wait so she went to find a nurse herself.
When he was assessed again by other doctors they found it ‘evident’ he had septic shock and organ failure, describing him as ‘extremely ill’.
It also became apparent that Mr Mason had developed the rare and life-threatening W strain of meningitis.
As her son lay in a critical condition, Mrs Mason said: “We were holding and stroking his hand and spoke to him, encouraging him to fight. Then to our absolute horror, his heart stopped.”
Junior doctor Max Bacon, who had been qualified for just over a year, said he discharged Mr Mason after seeking guidance from a senior colleague and being “falsely reassured” by blood test results. He had considered sepsis but a screening was not ordered.
After the hearing, Mrs Mason said she hoped these issues would be “acted on with all seriousness. If changes are made that result in lives being saved, that will be of some small comfort.”
Paul Sankey, of the family’s legal team, said they will now be able to resolve a legal claim on behalf of the family, adding it is very likely to be a private settlement.