Medical Negligence

£250,000 damages for family of grandmother who died after hospital delayed treatment of acute pancreatitis

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Vince Shore

Joint Head of Clinical Negligence (Hull)

3 min read time

A 63-year old grandmother died of multi-organ failure as her acute pancreatitis was not treated effectively.

Despite being diagnosed and discharged at St James Hospital for further review, she was left 54 days before any further examinations were carried out, revealing she had multiple gallbladder stones.

A month later –and  84 days after initially being admitted to hospital – she had to return to hospital as her condition continued to worsen.

By the time she had an operation to remove her gallbladder more than four months had passed since she first went to hospital.

However, during the procedure her blood pressure became very low and a decision was taken to stop.

She passed away soon after.

A Coroner recorded her cause of death as multi-organ failure, infected pancreatic necrosis and gallstone pancreatitis.

The Legal Case

The woman’s family contacted our medical negligence specialists to investigate the care provided.

Having requested medical records and sought independent expert opinion, our specialists alleged there had been a failure to arrange urgent outpatient investigation after the initial admission.

We also alleged there had been an unreasonable delay in obtaining urgent test results of 54 days. These should have been arranged urgently on the patient’s initial discharge.

An unreasonable delay in arranging further action such as the cholecystectomy (to remove her gall bladder) once the diagnosis of gallstone related pancreatitis was confirmed, was also highlighted in our legal claim.

There was an 84 day period between the patient first being discharged from hospital and her readmission with severe acute pancreatitis.

During this time there was an opportunity for effective management of her condition which would have saved her life.

We alleged that had an urgent cholecystectomy been carried out much sooner, this would have prevented the severe acute pancreatitis which caused her death developing and would have been a success.

The Hospital Trust admitted failure to arrange vital tests on discharge from her very first attendance at hospital, and that had they done so, she would have had a cholecystectomy for the pancreatitis and avoided the fatal attack of acute pancreatitis which resulted in her death.

The legal case settled out of court.

Vince Shore, Joint Head of Clinical Negligence, said:

“This was a situation we see all too often whereby a patient has become seriously ill, and indeed lost their life, because the required tests were not carried out with the urgency required.”

“There were clear indications in this case that there was a need for greater urgency given the increasing pain and problems suffered by the patient.”

“In cases such as this, no settlement can lessen the pain and loss for a family, but we were able to secure substantial damages which reflected not only the pre-death pain, suffering and loss of amenity of the patient, but also to reflect the loss of her husband, daughter and granddaughter who depended upon her in many aspects of life.”

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