Medical Negligence

Yorkshire hospital trust admits failure to operate on patient caused her death

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5 min read time

A Yorkshire hospital trust has admitted being responsible for the death of a patient by failing to operate on her to remove a blockage in her bowel.

The patient, of West Yorkshire, was first referred to Pontefract Hospital by her GP in March 2016, after suffering persistent abdominal pains and feeling sick after eating.

Over the next three-and-a-half years, she was repeatedly seen by specialists at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust as she continued to suffer from agonising stomach pains, only to be advised to follow a more fibre-based diet to help ease her symptoms, and that surgery could cause her greater pain.

It was only when she had lost 10 stones in weight due to being unable to eat that a decision was taken to operate at Pinderfields Hospital in September 2019, with ‘extensive adhesions’ – irregular bands of scar tissue that form and cause obstructions – removed.

She was so unwell by this stage that she went straight into intensive care after surgery due to infection and post-operative complications. She developed sepsis and died, aged 64, one month later.

Trust admitted liability following legal claim

The woman’s husband of 24 years pursued legal action in relation to his wife’s treatment, led by medical negligence claims specialists at Hudgell Solicitors, leading to admissions of liability by the Trust.

It admitted it had breached its duty of care and that, in particular, had surgery been carried out when she was seen in either December 2016 or May 2019, she would have, on the balance of probabilities, survived.

The man said: “Over a three-and-a-half year period my wife’s symptoms were not taken seriously. I feel very bitter. It could have been avoided.

“My wife, and the events leading up to her death, are never out of my mind. She was in severe pain for the last two years and this really affected her quality of life. She went from a loving, caring and sociable person to somebody who was so weak and housebound and unable to do very much.

“It was truly shocking to see her how she was. She lost so much weight and was a shadow of the person she used to be. I don’t think I will ever get over having to watch her go through all the pain that she did.

“She herself did not know she was dying. I had to explain to her that she would not be coming home and that was a very distressing thing to have to do. The impact of her death on me cannot be underestimated. I have lost my life partner, who, with acceptable treatment, could still have been here.”

Following the legal case, Len Richards, chief executive of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, wrote to the woman’s husband and said: “The standard of care, particularly the failures to operate in December 2016 and May 2019 fell below the standard that we would strive to offer and which your wife was entitled to expect, and I sincerely apologise for this.

“We realise that words of apology, however genuine, are unlikely to be much comfort, nevertheless, I would like again to offer my belated by sincere condolences, and to wish you and your family well for the future.”

Damages settlement agreed out of court

Principal Solicitor Elizabeth Maliakal, a specialist in medical negligence claims at Hudgell Solicitors, led the legal case and secured a £200,000 out-of-court damages settlement.

She said: “This is a desperately sad case where red flags were consistently overlooked with regards to the patients deteriorating health.

“Despite losing a frightening amount of weight, mainly due to being in too much pain to eat, and a working diagnosis of bowel obstruction, her care was never escalated to reflect her worsening situation.

“She was not getting better, and was only getting worse, and that should have been the trigger to perform surgery, as early as December 2016. Surgery was only undertaken in September 2019, by which time, it was far too late.

“I know it was heart-breaking for her husband to see her quality of life deteriorate and for her to be in so much pain for the last two years of her life.

“In taking legal action her husband, and my client, was very clear that he wanted the hospital trust to admit to its failures, and to offer a full apology, which they did. He sincerely hopes lessons have been learned, and that this does not happen again to others.”

What Is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence is when medical professionals make mistakes or fail in their duty of care to you, leading to injury or making an existing condition worse.

If you or a loved one has suffered ill-treatment or poor care you may be eligible to claim hospital negligence compensation – helping to cover the cost of ongoing care, remedial treatment, and loss of earnings.

Our experienced hospital negligence lawyers hold hospital trusts to account for failings in patient care, securing maximum compensation for those that are let down by their healthcare practitioner when receiving treatment for illness or injury in hospital.

If you’ve been the victim of hospital negligence or have seen a loved one suffer and wish to make an NHS negligence claim, our expert hospital negligence lawyers are here for you. For a free consultation about your claim, get in touch today.

Read more: Hospital Negligence Compensation Claims

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