The death of a ‘healthy young man’ from a form of blood poisoning after a hospital delayed in giving him antibiotics has led to the launch of a new campaign.
Twenty-nine-year-old Oliver Collett died from sepsis at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill just three days after first feeling unwell.
Now his heartbroken parents - who have taken legal action against the hospital trust - want to raise awareness of the condition to help other families avoid tragedy.
They say Oliver, who worked in administration for Horsham District Council, could have been saved if he had been given antibiotics earlier.
Oliver’s dad Terry said: “Losing Oliver in these circumstances has been a devastating blow to our family.”
He added: “Finding out from the medical expert that Oliver would still be with us today if he had simply been given antibiotics is a painful thing for us to live with.”
Law firm Penningtons Manches acted for the Colletts.
In a statement, the firm outlined events in the days before Oliver’s death.
The statement has been seen by Sussex and Surrey NHS Healthcare Trust which has not disputed its content.
The law firm said that Oliver, of Laurel Walk, Horsham, first became ill on January 23 2014 with back pain and the following day his GP prescribed him the painkillers Ibuprofen and Co-codamol. But Oliver later became breathless and spent the rest of the day in bed.
On Saturday Januay 25 Oliver went to the Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre after finding blood in his urine and was referred to East Surrey Hospital.
He was admitted in the afternoon with a temperature of 37.2°C and a distended and tender abdomen. Blood tests were taken which showed raised ‘CRP’ levels - a sign of possible infection.
He was given Paracetamol every six hours and was given a CT scan, but no follow-up blood tests. By Saturday evening Oliver was also complaining of swelling and pain in his hands and feet.
Oliver’s parents visited him that afternoon and complained to nursing staff that his hands were swollen and said they were concerned that he had not been receiving medical attention that weekend.
Later that evening, Oliver deteriorated and at around 11 pm he suffered a cardiac arrest and was admitted to the intensive care unit when a diagnosis of possible sepsis was made. Intensive care treatment was provided but Oliver died at around 6pm on Monday January 27.
His anguished mum Pauline and dad Terry were by his side, along with one of his three brothers.
A post mortem later confirmed that Oliver had died of sepsis following a bacterial infection that entered his bloodstream.
Reliving the tragedy this week following a legal settlement with the hospital, dad Terry said: “It has taken us three years to obtain a form of justice. But the main issue is making local people aware of sepsis as it kills more people in a year than cancer or heart disease.”
He said he had never heard of it before Oliver became ill, ‘but if people are aware of it, and how quickly it can take hold, they can talk to the doctors about it and get something done’.
Michael Wilson, chief executive, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We extend our deepest sympathies and apologies to Oliver Collett’s family and friends for their loss.
“We have already been in touch with Oliver’s family to express our regret and how sorry we are for their loss and we appreciate the difficult times this has caused for them.”
Meanwhile, Oliver’s dad Terry said that Oliver had worked for Horsham District Council for around ten years and many colleagues had attended his funeral, along with the council chairman.
Oliver, he said, was a ‘quiet sort of person and conscientious with a good sense of humour’. He enjoyed computers and watching football.
As well as his three brothers, Oliver also had four sisters.
His parents have placed a bench in Oliver’s memory at Hills Cemetery in Guildford Road, Horsham.