Following the inquest into the death of Reeta Saidha from sepsis at Basildon Hospital in December 2017, Iona Meeres-Young will pursue a civil claim against the hospital trust on behalf of Mrs Saidha's husband, Bhooshan, and their two daughters. This will take the form of a financial and service dependency claim to replace the contribution Reeta would have made by way of earnings and childcare/domestic assistance to her family.
Mrs Saidha was 15-weeks pregnant with her third child when her waters broke. Doctors at Basildon and Thurrock Hospital's Gynaecology Emergency Unit, where she went for help, told her the baby was unlikely to survive and she should wait for her body to expel the foetus naturally.
After two days in hospital with no progress, Mrs Saidha became seriously ill and was diagnosed with sepsis. When she was finally taken to surgery the next day to have the foetus removed, it was too late to save her and she died on 23rd December having gone into septic shock.
After hearing evidence, the Coroner said that poor communication at the hospital between medical staff and with the family had contributed to Mrs Saidha's death, not least the absence of a consultant to lead an effective treatment plan. Tragically, the family had to listen to witness evidence that had the cause of the infection – the foetus – been removed earlier and had treatment for sepsis been started earlier – Mrs Saidha would likely have survived.
The Corner also expressed concern that actions the hospital trust said it has put in place to ensure better recognition and treatment of sepsis would be effective. She issued a Preventing Future Deaths warning to the trust which must now report back to her in six months on the impact of improved procedure. At the time of Mrs Saidha's death, the hospital was using out-of-date NICE guidelines on sepsis treatment and a nurse on the case admitted she had not read them.
The hospital's own internal report highlighted a delay in admitting Mrs Saidha, staff shortages leading up to Christmas, poor handover communication between staff and a failure to remove the source of the infection or to follow sepsis care guidelines.
Iona said it had been extremely harrowing for the family to sit through the inquest hearing that if staff at Basildon hospital had done things differently Reeta would very probably still be alive.
"If you catch it early, sepsis is treatable," she said. "All pregnant women are at risk of infection and it’s high time hospitals took this risk seriously and properly trained staff to recognise deal with it.
"The trust’s clinical lead for women’s services promised the Coroner under oath that Reeta’s case has generated new ways of doing things. It’s now up to them to keep that promise and ensure no other family has to live through such a tragedy, which has left two families grieving and two young girls without a mother."
Bhooshan Saidha said:
"The loss of Reeta is so severe and significant. It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that she could have been saved. Her loss hurts the hearts of everyone she touched in her short life. She was truly extraordinary, a loving mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend and made time for everyone but tragically, time was not made for her. To say she is sorely missed is an understatement. My heart is truly broken. My soul mate has been taken away from me."
Counsel for the trust said a full apology will be sent to Mr Saidha for the death of his wife.