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May 1st 2021

Medical Negligence

Patient awarded £950,000 damages after hospital failed to prescribe medication which would have prevented life-changing stroke

Chris Moore

Chris Moore

Joint Head of Clinical Negligence

Patient awarded £950,000 damages after hospital failed to prescribe medication which would have prevented life-changing stroke

A Hospital Trust has agreed to pay damages of £950,000 to a patient who suffered a stroke after doctors ‘missed several obvious opportunities’ to prevent it by failing to prescribe him blood-thinning medication.

A Hospital Trust has agreed to pay damages of £950,000 to a patient who suffered a stroke after doctors ‘missed several obvious opportunities’ to prevent it by failing to prescribe him blood-thinning medication.

Alan Ablett, of Beverley, East Yorkshire, had been worried about his health when on a holiday break in France and went to see his GP immediately after returning home.

He had been dropping things, was feeling weak and tired and had noticed his speech had also started to become slurred at times.

Following an urgent admission at Hull Royal Infirmary he was diagnosed to have suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), more commonly referred to as a ‘mini stroke’, caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain.

This should have been a trigger for doctors to place Mr Ablett, 58 at the time, on blood-thinning medication which is effective in preventing strokes.

This didn’t happen and having being discharged home after a week in hospital, he continued to suffer the same symptoms, resulting in him returning to hospital on three consecutive days just over three weeks later.

He was finally admitted again suffering problems with his sight, drooping of his left eyelid and weakness in his left arm and down his left side, having suffered a further stroke.

He was in hospital for a further six days before he was finally given blood thinning medication in the form of Apixaban. In total more than six weeks passed before he was ‘urgently’ started on anticoagulation medication.

Trust admitted breach of duty of care – and that stroke should have been avoided

Following legal action on Mr Ablett’s behalf by Hudgell Solicitors, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust admitted breaching its duty of care in failing to prescribe anticoagulation from Mr Ablett’s first admission, and to initiate treatment within 14 days.

For years the Trust denied that its failure to immediately ensure Mr Ablett was prescribed the medication had been a contributory cause of his eventual stroke, but following representations between legal parties, it finally admitted fault and agreed a £950,000 settlement to prevent the matter going to the courts.

Solicitor Chris Moore, joint head of clinical negligence at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “The stroke which Mr Ablett suffered has had devastating life-changing consequences for him.

“Sadly there were several obvious opportunities missed to prescribe anticoagulation medication to him over a six week period, during which time he was suffering continuing symptoms and was in hospital for assessments.

“Mr Ablett had a family history of hypertension and his mother had a stroke at the age of 52, so these factors should have been taken into consideration when considering what treatment was appropriate. The mini-stroke he suffered was a red-flag alert to prescribe anticoagulants such as Heparin, Warfarin or Apixaban which actually thin the blood.

“Instead he was given anti-platelet agents such as aspirin and clopidogrel, which do prevent clotting, but were not appropriate in this case. The failure to provide the right medication in light of clear evidence of him having suffered some form of a stroke was below the standard of care expected.

“For many years the Trust insisted Mr Ablett would still have suffered the stoke which caused his lifelong injuries had he being given the medication immediately, which conflicted with independent medical opinion that Apixaban would have been effective within three hours of the first dose.

“Also, since being on the medication, Mr Ablett has not suffered any more strokes or episodes of mini-strokes.

“It was only after we had to take the step of issuing proceedings against the Trust to take this matter to court, and it was listed for trial, that the Trust admitted Mr Ablett would not have suffered his stroke had he being given the medication.”

Stroke brought end to ‘active social life’

The stroke, suffered in October 2014, had a life-changing impact on Mr Ablett, who had previously ran his own property company, had been about to take a new job which had been offered to him and was still involved in local politics as Chairman of the local Labour Party.

He previously also enjoyed going for lunch with his daughter, going to the gym, swimming, watching rugby and socialising at his local pub.

He has since been left unable to drive and struggling to walk any distance or stand for long periods. He has problems with his balance and general weakness of his left side, as well as visual problems and a loss of confidence.

He is no longer able to look after his grandchildren on his own and now needs assistance with day to day activities including getting in and out of the bath and when showering, due to his poor balance.

Mr Ablett, now 65, said: “The stoke I suffered changed life for me and my wife Elaine as I am simply not able to do what I used to. I have issues with my balance and my eyesight and I can’t help out around the house like I used to.

“We used to enjoy a very sociable life seeing friends at weekends and going to the gym, but I haven’t been able to do that. I also had to give up my role as Chairman of the local Labour Party which I enjoyed as I simply couldn’t follow the meetings.

“It is frustrating because the hospital just didn’t tell us enough about what had happened to me when I was first admitted and initially I didn’t know I’d had a mini stroke.

“I was aware that people who suffer mini strokes should be prescribed anticoagulation medication because there had been other people in my family suffer them in the past. I said that to the consultants at one stage.

“Although this has had a big impact on my life, and that of my wife who has had to look after me and take on all the work around the house, I am not bitter and I am a huge fan of the NHS and the great work it does overall.

“Sadly, at times, consultants get things wrong, so that has to be addressed and perhaps decisions should be reviewed more.

“What has annoyed me is that it has taken seven years to get that admission and for me to receive compensation which can really help us.

“We are going to buy a bungalow with the money as that will be more spacious and suitable for us, and now we want to look forward.”

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