Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a serious complication of an infection, which can have devastating consequences if not treated quickly. Every year more than 50,000 people die after contracting sepsis and many thousands more are left with disabilities and life-changing consequences.

On the 13 December 2017, Ava Macfarlane was taken to hospital. She was vomiting, struggling to breath and had a high temperature. After a couple of hours of observation, the medical team diagnosed Ava with a virus and decided to send her home with Calpol and ibuprofen.

Just two days later, Ava died of toxic shock, which had been caused by sepsis.

The case is currently being heard in front of Assistant Coroner Laurinda Bower in the Nottingham Coroner’s Court. Dr Shearn, who worked in the Emergency Department at the Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre, told Ms Bower that Ava had been showing at least two red flag symptoms for sepsis according to guidelines from the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence and the Sepsis Trust. Dr Shearn also said that had the guidelines been followed,  Ava’s infection would have been picked up earlier which “may have improved her chances of survival”.

Symptoms of sepsis in young children can include:

  • fast heart rate (tachycardia)

  • fever

  • mottled, bluish or pale skin

  • a seizure or convulsion

    With early diagnosis and the correct treatment, most people make a full recovery.

    Freeths solicitors have considerable experience in representing and securing settlements for clients in cases where there has been a failure to diagnose and treat sepsis.

    The 13th September marks World Sepsis Day. World Sepsis Day is an initiative designed to raised awareness about sepsis in the hope that increased awareness and education will help save lives.

    If you are concerned about care which you or a loved one have received, please contact a member of our national team for a free, informal discussion;

    Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 274 6830

    Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) 0186 578 1019

    Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724

    For further information please also visit our website at:

    For more information on Ava’s story, please visit the BBC website;