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Grandfather-of-7 died of sepsis after being sent home from hospital with painkillers

PUBLISHED: 10:45 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:07 10 September 2020

Stephen Corke, from Great Cornard, died in 2018 from sepsis after being sent home from Tunbridge Wells Hospital with painkillers. Picture: CORKE FAMILY

Stephen Corke, from Great Cornard, died in 2018 from sepsis after being sent home from Tunbridge Wells Hospital with painkillers. Picture: CORKE FAMILY

Archant

A plumbing and heating engineer who had a drill fall on his foot probably wouldn’t have died from sepsis if he hadn’t been discharged from hospital, a trust has admitted.

steve with his daughter Rebecca Corke. Picture: CORKE FAMILYsteve with his daughter Rebecca Corke. Picture: CORKE FAMILY

Steve Corke lived in Great Cornard with his wife Gillian, a learning centre manager at West Suffolk College, and was a father to five children. He also had seven grandchildren.

The 60-year-old was working on a construction site in Kent when a pneumatic drill fell on his right foot on August 14, 2018.

Despite trying to continue working, he was taken to Tunbridge Wells Hospital the next day in pain.

When doctors established Mr Corke hadn’t fractured his foot, he was given morphine and discharged.

Steve left behind five children and seven grandchildren. Picture: CORKE FAMILYSteve left behind five children and seven grandchildren. Picture: CORKE FAMILY

However, he continued to be in pain and was rushed to a different hospital on August 16 with a blistered, red and swollen leg and was diagnosed with compartment syndrome.

With a temperature of 39.5 C, Mr Corke had emergency surgery and later suffered a cardiac arrest – thought to be caused by the lack of blood flow to his injured leg – and surgeons decided to amputate his right leg.

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Despite their best efforts, he died later that morning and a post-mortem examination determined it was caused by sepsis.

Gillian said two years on she still misses her husband Steve so much. Picture: CORKE FAMILYGillian said two years on she still misses her husband Steve so much. Picture: CORKE FAMILY

Mrs Corke said: “When I saw Steve, I knew immediately that he wasn’t right. I could see how red and swollen his leg was and that he needed to get to hospital.

“Once I took him to hospital, I can’t thank enough the doctors for everything they tried to do to help Steve - but by then it was too late.

“We all still miss Steve so much. What makes his death harder to accept is that Steve would still be with us if his condition had been spotted sooner.

“Steve was a genuinely wonderful man. We just hope we can honour his memory by making people understand how dangerous sepsis is and raising awareness of its symptoms.”

Steve left behind five children and seven grandchildren. Picture: CORKE FAMILYSteve left behind five children and seven grandchildren. Picture: CORKE FAMILY

Since an investigation by legal firm Irwin Mitchell, the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has admitted it breached its duty of care towards Mr Corke - saying he probably would have survived if he had been admitted instead of discharged on August 15.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “We are very sorry for the tragic loss of Mr Corke and send our heartfelt and deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

“While no words can adequately address their loss, we carefully reviewed Mr Corke’s care and are taking steps to ensure lessons are learnt by our clinical teams.”

Following Mr Corke’s death, his wife has undertaken various fundraising activities for the charity UK Sepsis Trust.

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.


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