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Avoidable Stroke and Death Leads to Recovery of £105,000

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An independent elderly lady suffered a debilitating stroke after a failure in communication led to her missing vital anticoagulant medication for a heart condition.

Our Medical Negligence Team recently secured a settlement of £105,000 in a case where the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust failed to provide anticoagulation to a patient with atrial fibrillation leading to a devastating stroke and ultimately causing her death.

Our client, Mrs T was an 81 year old lady who lived independently in her own home. She attended A&E at The Royal Oldham Hospital complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, she was discharged home with appropriate medication.

A month later she went back complaining of malaise, lethargy, palpitations and shortness of breath, she was admitted and the earlier diagnosis confirmed.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate with symptoms including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness.

A plan was formed to keep Mrs T in hospital to stabilise her heart rate before discharging her home with a referral to the anticoagulation clinic.

Atrial fibrillation also places patients at an increased risk of developing cardiac blood clots and risk of stroke resulting from the passage of thrombus from the heart to the smaller blood vessels in the brain. Providing anticoagulant medication significantly reduces the risks both of clots forming and strokes occurring.

However clerical errors and communication mix ups meant she was not referred to the clinic and she was discharged home without any anticoagulant cover in place.

Mrs T essentially remained lost to follow up by the hospital and the anticoagulation service and went on to suffer a right-sided stroke which left her totally aphasic and unable to swallow safely so that the insertion of a PEG was necessary. She lost the ability to communicate beyond sounds and gestures, remained largely bedbound, was doubly incontinent and required total care 24 hours per day. Mrs T’s condition meant that she was more susceptible to chest infections and her condition ultimately deteriorated and she sadly died.

Pearson Solicitors were instructed to pursue a clinical negligence claim, initially on her behalf and then by her Estate following her death. Expert evidence was secured which confirmed that but for the failure to provide anticoagulant cover Mrs T could have avoided the stroke and subsequent death. Proceedings were issued and a settlement was ultimately secured to compensate her pain, suffering and lost amenity, in respect of the care and expenses incurred in providing that care, and to compensate her Estate for her funeral and memorial.

Commenting on the case Kenneth Lees, specialist clinical negligence solicitor, said “In this case a beloved mother and grandmother suffered a debilitating stroke which ultimately led to her death after a prolonged period of suffering.

"In clinical negligence claims no sum of money will ever truly compensate the injured party or their family and friends for the losses suffered, particularly here where Mrs T sadly passed away prior to the conclusion of the claim. I hope that the level of compensation recovered for Mrs T’s Estate will act as a prompt for the Trust to revise its internal procedures to ensure that these failings are never repeated again”.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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