A widow whose husband died from sepsis after eating duck eggs purchased from a stall at a North Lincolnshire show is warning others of the dangers of the life-threatening condition.
Niptoon Tavakoli, 65, made three 999 calls in 85 minutes complaining of sickness and diarrhoea. During two of the calls he told call handlers “I need help very quick” and “I’m in trouble,” an ambulance investigation said.
When an ambulance crew arrived at his house in Lindholme, Doncaster, a paramedic believed he had gastroenteritis and so didn’t take him to hospital to prevent a sickness outbreak, the report found.
Niptoon had fallen ill after eating the six duck eggs he bought at a village show days earlier. He was displaying ‘amber’ signs of sepsis which sees the body attack itself 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).
An inquest jury concluded Niptoon died of natural causes.
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.
Cheryl has now joined her legal team at Irwin Mitchell in calling for lessons to be learned following the death of Niptoon, who was also a stepfather to Andrew and Paul.
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 others 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.”
Niptoon worked in the catering industry and retail management for many years. He bought six ducks eggs at Messingham Show in Lincolnshire on 2 June, 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, 2019.
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.
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.
A spokesperson for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “First and foremost, our thoughts remain with the family of Niptoon Tavakoli following his death in 2019.
“The Trust contributed to the Coroner’s inquest and fully accepts the findings of the jury at Doncaster Coroner’s Court. From the outset, we have acknowledged that the clinical care provided to Mr Tavakoli in June 2019 fell below the high standards we pride ourselves on.
“We are deeply sorry for this and extend our sincere condolences to Mrs Tavakoli and her family.”