A man who contracted salmonella from duck eggs tragically died after he was misdiagnosed by paramedics and not taken to hospital. Yorkshire Ambulance Service have admitted liability in the death of Niptoon Tavakoli, who had called 999 three times in around 85 minutes complaining of severe sickness and diarrhoea.
In two of the calls, he told operators “I need help very quick” and “I’m in trouble,” an ambulance service investigation said. When emergency services arrived at his home in Lindholme, Doncaster, a medic believed he was suffering from gastroenteritis and made the decision not to take him to hospital to prevent a sickness outbreak, the report found.
Niptoon had fallen ill just days after eating duck eggs that he had picked up at the Messingham Show in North Lincolnshire, Hull Live reports. He was exhibiting "amber" signs of sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which the immune system starts attacking the body in response to an infection.
Three days later, his wife Cheryl dialled 999. Niptoon was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with salmonella. However, his condition continued to deteriorate. He died in hospital two months later, aged 65, from multiple organ failure.
Following Niptoon’s death, Cheryl, 63, instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her husband’s illness and the care he received from Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS). YAS admitted liability for Niptoon’s death.
A serious incident report by the Trust found “it would have been appropriate” to take Niptoon to hospital when the crew first visited him at home. An inquest jury concluded Niptoon died of natural causes. Cheryl has now joined her legal team in calling for lessons to be learned following the death of Niptoon, who was also a stepfather to Andrew and Paul.
Following the hearing, Catherine Slattery, the medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Niptoon’s family said: “Cheryl and the rest of the family continue to be greatly affected by Niptoon’s death, especially the circumstances surrounding it.
“For several years they’ve had a number of concerns about the events that unfolded. Sadly the inquest and the ambulance service’s report have validated those concerns.
“The effects of gastric illnesses such as salmonella should never be downplayed. In Niptoon’s case it led to him developing sepsis which is an incredibly dangerous illness; however, the condition can be beaten if diagnosed and treated quickly.
“While it’s too late for Niptoon and his family, we welcome that the ambulance service has taken measures to improve sepsis awareness among its staff. However, it’s vital that lessons continue to be learned to improve patient safety for others.”
Niptoon worked in the catering industry and retail management for many years. He bought six ducks eggs at Messingham Show in Lincolnshire on June 2, 2019. He later cooked and ate four of them.
Five days later he complained of sickness and diarrhoea. The ambulance service report said that Niptoon initially dialled the NHS 111 helpline at around 12.25pm and a call handler recommended he phoned his GP surgery.
Niptoon made three 999 calls between 1.50pm and 3.15pm complaining of sickness and diarrhoea. During the second he had a “massive headache” and told the call handler “I need help very quick,” the report said. During the third call he reported he had food poisoning, a high temperature, and chest pains adding “I’m in trouble,” the ambulance service report added.
Niptoon’s case was upgraded to a category two call meaning paramedics should arrive within 40 minutes. A note advising it was a possible sepsis incident was added for the ambulance crew to review.
A crew arrived just after 4pm and found Niptoon in bed. He told them “that he felt his organs were shutting down”, the report said. Following tests, the crew left around 30 minutes later.
Cheryl called 999 on 10 June, 2019, after her husband complained he was aching and had no strength. He also had a mottled rash on his legs and arms.
The same crew who visited Niptoon three days earlier arrived and took him to hospital. Niptoon was admitted to critical care but died on 12 August.
The ambulance service report also found that Niptoon was taken to hospital by ambulance on June 10 under normal road conditions. However, given his condition and how he was by then showing red flag symptoms of sepsis, it would have been appropriate to have "blue-lighted" him as an emergency, while pre-alerting the hospital.
An investigation by Public Health England found the source of Niptoon’s salmonella was from the duck eggs he bought. It found another person in the West Midlands had also fallen ill with the same strain of salmonella but had recovered.
Following the incident, Yorkshire Ambulance Service said it had arranged training for staff and had updated its policies and sepsis screening tools based on National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and UK Sepsis Trust advice.
Doncaster Coroner’s Court was told Niptoon arrived at hospital at 10pm but did not receive antibiotics until 11.30am the following day. Sepsis guidelines stated he should have commenced antibiotics within an hour of arrival. However, the court heard the delay would not have made a difference to the outcome.
Cheryl paid tribute to Niptoon. She said: “It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe the impact Niptoon’s death has had on our family. He was such a caring and fun person who loved spending time with his family and friends but also antique hunting and collecting coins.
“The last three years and trying to come to terms with what happened has taken a toll on all of us. Trying to grieve has been made all the harder because of having so many unanswered concerns.
“While nothing can bring him back we take some small comfort from at least being able to honour his memory by now establishing the answers Niptoon deserved. However, we feel we need to speak out to raise awareness of the dangers of not only salmonella but sepsis. People have probably heard of sepsis but I’m not sure everyone is fully aware of how dangerous it is.
“Niptoon had worked in the catering business for years so knew the importance of good hygiene, safety standards and knew how to cook duck eggs.
“That he contracted salmonella even with his knowledge shows that other could fall ill after eating them. We just want to try and make people aware as we wouldn’t want another family to go through what we have."
Signs of sepsis include slurred speech, confusion, extreme shivering and muscle pain, passing no urine in a day, severe breathlessness and mottled or discoloured skin. For more information visit www.sepsistrust.org
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