Southampton University Hospitals Trust has been fined £100,000 after pleading guilty in the case of the death of Sean Phillips, 31 following a routine operation. The trust has pleaded guilty for failing to supervise doctors following the operation.
Sitting at Winchester Crown Court, Mr Justice Cresswell also ordered the trust to pay £10,000 in costs following the health and safety prosecution prompted by the death of Sean Phillips, 31, at Southampton General Hospital in June 2000.
Senior house officers Amit Misra and Rajeev Srivastava were convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence in 2003, following which they were sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.
According to the judge "Common sense dictates that a reasonable standard of care must pertain seven days a week, 52 weeks a year."
Mr Phillips had been admitted to Southampton General Hospital on June 23 2000 to repair torn knee ligaments. Although the operation was successful, an infection that Mr Philips could not deal with set in and toxins started to build up in his body in a rare reaction.
Although there were symptoms of high temperature, high pulse rate and low blood pressure both Amit Misra and Rajeev Srivastava failed to diagnose the condition or seek help and advice from senior doctors even though they visited Mr Phillips eight times over two days.
Even in the days running up to his death there had been reports of substandard performance" of senior house officers (SHO) in the trauma and orthopaedic department where Mr Phillips was being treated.
The court heard that Misra's consultant, David Warwick, had very little direct contact with SHOs and left it to senior registrars and nurses to deal with any problems. Although other consultants would go on ward rounds and supervise junior doctors more closlely this approach to supervision and management was not formalised in the trust.
Richard Lissack QC, in mitigation, apologised to the family and friends of Sean Phillips for the death but stressed that the trust was not responsible for him dying and that they had admitted their guilt in relation to one aspect of care in one department during a short amount of time in June 2000.
He said that since Mr Phillips' death the trust had quickly set up an automated early warning system that monitors patients' vital signs and when there is a problem it triggers an automatic response and a senior doctor becomes involved.
He also said there had been a change in the training of senior house officers nationally since August 2002 and internally at the trust there were now better mechanisms for improved staff relationships and liaison.
This included thorough and consistent ward rounds or advice seven days a week by senior doctors.
The court was told that the trust had an excellent reputation and had never been convicted of a health and safety matter before.
The hearing was also told that the fine would come out of the general budget for the trust and so would be taken from money used for patient care.