Medical Negligence

Father died weeks after becoming breathless and suffering pains as hospital dismissed blood clot as chest infection


Gemma Bontoft

New Claims Technical Team Leader

3 min read time

A 58-year-old father died from a blood clot in his lungs after twice being sent home from hospital as doctors assumed he had a chest infection.

The man, whose wife said had ‘never really been ill’ in the 40 years they’d been together, died within weeks of developing a chesty cough and suffering from heavy breathing and chest and back pains.

He had been seen in hospital twice in the weeks before his death, having been discharged on the same day of his first visit on antibiotics and secondly, a week before he died, having remained in hospital overnight.

Despite the man making doctors aware that both his father and older sister had a history of blood clotting, no further investigations were carried out.

A consultant even cancelled plans for a CT scan during his second hospital admission, assuming he was recovering from pneumonia.

Legal action was pursued by Hudgell Solicitors on behalf of the man’s widow, resulting in the Trust which runs the hospital admitting that relevant tests should have been carried out during the man’s first hospital visit.

It was also admitted that such tests would have identified the blood clot, and that his death ‘would certainly have been avoided’ by prescribing blood-thinning medication at that time.

The man’s widow described him as her ‘soulmate’ and said his death had ‘left a huge hole in the lives’ of their family.

He struggled to breathe over a two-week period at home before collapsing. Attempts to resuscitate him in an ambulance were unsuccessful.

The legal claim resulted in the man’s widow being awarded damages of £385,000, covering loss of financial support and services, bereavement damages and also damages for the women herself as ‘secondary victim’, having suffered psychiatric injuries brought on by witnessing her husband’s deterioration, the attempts to save him and his death.

Legal case can help ensure lessons are learned to avoid similar life-costing medical mistakes

Litigation Executive, Gemma Bontoft, of the clinical negligence department at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “In our job we sadly see far too many occasions where medical professionals make assumptions to diagnose patients rather than carrying out tests which will provide a definitive answer, and ensure appropriate treatment can be followed.

“It is quite shocking just how often a failure to fully investigate symptoms and illnesses proves life-changing, or even fatal as it did in this case.

“I imagine that a basic error such as this is something that no family who loses a loved one in this way can ever comprehend or even try to understand.

“Although legal action and no amount of money can ever bring loved ones back or turn back the clock, we hope that legal action ensures vital lessons are learned and shared to prevent similar mistakes happening at this Trust again.”

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