Grieving family left without answers after labourer’s sepsis death just weeks after workplace accident

The family of a labourer who died of sepsis in Sheffield have been left without answers after an inquest ruled the source of the infection which killed him could not be found.

By Dan Hayes
Monday, 10 June, 2019, 17:13

Paul Farrell, aged 50, of Halifax, died in Northern General Hospital on November 17 last year after his body became ‘overwhelmed’ by the blood infection.

Mr Farrell has visited the hospital three days earlier complaining of chest pains after a workplace accident, but was sent away with painkillers.

Sheffield's Medico-Legal Centre on Watery Street.

However, an inquest into his death on Monday ruled it was impossible to say whether the accident had played a role in his premature death.

Giving evidence at today’s inquest were Mr Farrell’s workmate Andy Hill and Dr Thomas Locker, a consultant in emergency medicine from Northern General Hospital.

Mr Hill said Mr Farrell was generally a well man but ‘went downhill’ after an accident some weeks before in which he became stuck in a chimney, with Mr Hill struggling for up to an hour and a half to get his colleague and friend out.

After the incident, Mr Hill said Mr Farrell complained of chest pains and was ‘just not himself’, at one point even saying he thought he might have had a stroke.

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Mr Farrell first attended hospital on November 12, and then went back to A+E on November 14 when he was prescribed Co-codamol.

Dr Locker said there was no reason to suspect that Mr Farrell had sepsis when he attended A+E on November 14, although he did say a second set of observations should have ‘ideally’ been taken before he left the department.

“The decision to discharge him at that stage was a reasonable one,” he said.

In delivering her narrative conclusion of Mr Farrell’s death, assistant coroner Abigail Combes said: “On November 14, 2018, Paul Farrell presented at hospital with pain in his chest and shoulder. He had deteriorated following an initial visit to hospital on November 12.

“He was overwhelmed with infection, the source of which is not known. He died at the Northern General Hospital on November 17, 2018.”

Ms Combes added that while the primary cause of death was sepsis, Mr Farell’s Type 2 diabetes and liver disease had made him more susceptible to the killer infection.

Mr Farrell’s family including his daughter Kate and son Scott were present in court as were a number of Mr Farrell’s former colleagues.

Ms Combes ended the hearing by apologising to Mr Farrell’s family for not being able to give them more answers, and expressed her condolences for their loss.