We have been acting for the widow of a 45-year-old man who was unhappy with treatment which her late husband received at Great Western Hospital on 29/30 August 2016.
Briefly, on the 29 August 2016 at about 9.00am, the deceased was admitted to hospital complaining of central chest pain.
At about midday, he was seen by a Consultant in A&E who suspected he had acute coronary syndrome and referred him to the medics.
At about 1.00pm, he was transferred to a medical ward but unfortunately due to an oversight on the part of the hospital, he was not then seen by any other doctor.
Sadly, on the 30 August 2016 at about 5.20am, he had a cardiac arrest and died.
Breach of duty
Following the deceased’s death, the hospital undertook their own Internal Investigation and their Root Cause Analysis report identified a number of failings in his care which included:-
- No chest x-ray was undertaken when the deceased was admitted – this is recommended for the assessment of all patients with suspected acute coronary syndrome.
- There were a number of suspected Acute Cardiac Chest Pain Protocol failures (the Protocol is also known as the “yellow pathway”).
- There was no medical assessment within 4 hours by senior medical personnel and within 14 hours by a consultant.
- The ED handover sheet was not used which would have categorised the patient and identified that no chest x-ray had been completed.
- The back-up list/Nursing handover failed.
- There was a failure to prescribe appropriate medication.
In addition, it was also noted:-
- There was a lack of a reliable IT system in place.
- The location of cardiac patients being transferred onto the ward had not been processed.
On the evidence available, including the Post Mortem, it was our case that the deceased had an acute coronary syndrome and he should have been admitted to a Cardiology Unit for urgent coronary angiography with stenting if indicated. This should have taken place either in the afternoon or early evening of the 29 August 2016 and this would have saved the deceased’s life.
The claim was brought on behalf of the deceased’s widow and his two dependent children.
Proceedings were issued in the High Court. Although the hospital conceded breach of duty, causation was disputed. In essence, their case was that even with adequate care, his death could not have been avoided.
Notwithstanding their Defence, the parties were able to agree upon a gross sum to settle the claim.
A small amount of the settlement was payable to the dependent children and the terms of the settlement were approved by the Court during February 2023.
S J Edney obtained damages for our client of £675,000.00 in 2023
In this case, the hospital acknowledged at an early stage that the deceased had received inadequate care but they denied that this either caused or contributed to his death. In other words, his death was unavoidable. We therefore had no option but to issue legal proceedings.
To succeed with a clinical negligence claim, you need to establish:-
- Firstly, the standard of care a patient receives at hospital has fallen below a level normally expected of a practitioner in that field or specialisation (breach of duty/negligence). If the practitioner can show in his or her defence that there is a body of competent practitioners who would have acted in a similar way or if the risk of injury is a recognised complication of the procedure, a claim will not succeed.
- Secondly, the damage or injury suffered was either caused or materially contributed to by the breach of duty or negligence of the hospital (causation).
Unless you can establish both breach of duty and causation, a clinical negligence claim will not succeed, irrespective of how serious the injury is to the patient. In this case, it resulted in the death of a much-loved husband and father.
Fortunately, we were able to settle this case without the need for it to go to Trial.
If either you or a family member are unhappy with medical treatment, please contact Mr Edney for advice on making a claim.