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Suffolk family receive £415,000 settlement after doctors failed to diagnose ‘flesh-eating disease’ that killed mother-of two

PUBLISHED: 22:23 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 22:23 07 November 2017

Helen Edgar with husband Ian, 48,  and children Kayleigh, 17, and Kyle, 24. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Helen Edgar with husband Ian, 48, and children Kayleigh, 17, and Kyle, 24. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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A Stowmarket family have been paid £415,000 by an NHS Trust after a mother-of-two died of a ‘flesh-eating disease’ doctors failed to diagnose.

Helen Edgar, 41, from Stowmarket, died in May 2013 after doctors failed to diagnose a rare bacterial infection. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Helen Edgar, 41, from Stowmarket, died in May 2013 after doctors failed to diagnose a rare bacterial infection. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Helen Edgar, 41, died on May 26, 2013, after visiting West Suffolk Hospital’s accident and emergency department eight days before complaining of shoulder pain.

She was diagnosed with a sprain and sent home but was back the next night when her condition worsened.

Over the coming days, doctors at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust failed to diagnose and treat Mrs Edgar for the rare bacterial infection necrotising fascitis, a form of flesh-eating disease.

She was finally diagnosed the day before she died although senior doctors twice dismissed a diagnosis in the days prior.

A hearing at the High Court on Monday approved the settlement from the Trust, which admitted it failed in its duty of care.

Her husband Ian, 48, a carpenter for Mid Suffolk District Council, described her as the ‘bedrock’ of their family.

“It is difficult to put into words the devastating effect Helen’s death has had on our family,” he said. “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.

“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.

“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,”

A spokeswoman for the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “This was a tragic case where Mrs Edgar presented to the Trust with a rare condition which was not promptly diagnosed.

“The Trust admitted in May 2015, following investigation, that there had been a delay in making a prompt diagnosis and since that time it has been seeking to resolve settlement of this claim.

“The Trust expresses its unreserved apologies and deep regret for the tragic incident that has affected the life of Mr Edgar and his family. The Trust has learnt lessons as a result of Mrs Edgar’s rare presentation, and will continue to do everything it can to ensure that similar circumstances are not repeated in the future.”

Alexandra Winch, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who represented the family, said: “The failure of doctors to diagnose Helen’s necrotising fascitis and debride the affected tissue had catastrophic consequences for the family.

“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.”

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