Northampton General Hospital to blame for flesh-eating bug death

Northampton General Hospital Image copyright +Burgess von Thunen
Image caption Delays at Northampton General Hospital allowed a flesh-eating bug to spread through Suzanne Gardner's body

A Northamptonshire grandmother who died after contracting a flesh-eating bug could have been saved if hospital staff diagnosed and treated her earlier, a judge has ruled.

Suzanne Gardner, 60, of Blisworth, developed necrotising fasciitis after cutting herself when she slipped on her driveway in snow on 17 December 2010.

She died four days later at Northampton General Hospital.

High Court judge Sir David Eady said Mrs Gardner's care was "negligent".

Her husband Colin Gardner was awarded full compensation for the loss of his wife but the amount has not been disclosed.

The court heard when Mrs Gardner cut her elbow in the fall, she put resulting pain and chills down to a flare-up of arthritis or a cold.

Blisters developed on her hands and arms causing excruciating pain and she went to the hospital on 21 December but despite her pain she was not a priority.

Sir David said Mrs Gardner's treatment was delayed and the killer bug spread through her body.

She urgently needed amputations to stop the bug spreading but was left waiting for hours.

Lack of 'urgency'

Lawyers argued Mrs Gardner's death would have been prevented if staff had examined her sooner and amputated her arms in time.

Mr Gardner told the court his wife would have had no trouble agreeing to the potentially life-saving operation.

The hospital claimed Mrs Gardner had presented only moderate pain and was dealt with in good time.

Sir David said: "A greater sense of urgency was clearly required than that displayed."

He added she should have been seen by a doctor sooner and blood tests taken.

A competent microbiologist would have diagnosed the infection, he said.

"Had Mrs Gardner been treated non-negligently she would probably have survived," he said.

"She would have lived but for the breaches of duty identified."

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