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Hospital failed to check blood tests and missed heart attack of patient who died days later

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5 min read time
18 Mar 2020

A heartbroken widow has instructed Hudgell Solicitors after a hospital consultant failed to check her husband’s blood test results and sent him home after he’d suffered a huge heart attack.

Graham Kitt, 71, of Elloughton, East Yorkshire, died less than two weeks later after being rushed back into hospital suffering from severe heart failure.He had initially been sent to Hull Royal Infirmary by his GP in August 2018, suffering from pains in his lower arms and chest, and shortness of breath.

On admission both blood tests and a chest x-ray were carried out – although there was no record of an ECG scan being taken to measure his heart rhythm.He was discharged later the same day by a consultant who’d only reviewed his chest scan, diagnosing him with pulmonary fibrosis.

Mr Kitt had in fact suffered a huge heart attack, something which was shown by incredibly high levels of Troponin in his blood results (a protein which is released into the bloodstream during a heart attack), which were not checked before his release.His blood results remained unchecked after his discharge, and over the subsequent 11 day period before he was readmitted to hospital with severe heart failure.

Widows says hospital’s mistakes and husband’s death have left her ‘struggling to go on’

Mr Kitt’s wife of 36 years, Janette, says she will never be able to forgive the hospital for letting her husband down so badly.

“Throughout his life Graham hardly went to the doctors or hospital and he always kept himself fit and well, the one time he needed the NHS it completely failed him,” she said. “The blood tests indicated that Graham had suffered a significant heart attack but were simply never checked by the consultant and he was sent home. Why take diagnostic tests and not check the results?

“It is beyond belief that such a basic error could be made, and that even after Graham was discharged, the results were still not checked and he was not recalled.

“When Graham died, my life pretty much ended too. He was a kind, generous and loving man and he was my soulmate. We were together 40 years and we would spend all of our time together. We were happiest when we were together, just enjoying doing simple things.

“I have struggled to go on. I miss him terribly every day. We had a simple but happy life, and I was planning to retire so we could travel together. That was taken from us.

“The only thing that has kept me going has been my desire to get answers for him, to hold people to account and hopefully ensure this does not happen to other people.”

Solicitor says patient was ‘denied chance of treatment which could have saved him’

Solicitor Emma Cawthorne, a medical negligence specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, is representing Mrs Kitt in the legal case, and will do so at an Inquest to be held later this year. She said: “The saddest thing about Mr Kitt’s death is that due to the basic failure to check blood tests, he was denied the chance of being given medication and treatment which could have saved him.

“Despite having had a significant heart episode, Mr Kitt lived for close to another two weeks. Had the blood results been checked at any stage during this time he could have been treated with appropriate medication.

“The treating consultant admitted during investigations that it would be his normal practice to ensure that blood results were checked before sending a patient home, and that he could not explain why that had not happened in this case.

“That is an extremely difficult admission for Mrs Kitt to understand, or ever accept.”

Following the investigation, an action plan drawn up by the Trust recommended that the ACU make it clear to reviewing doctors which blood tests have been requested, that they are reviewed in a timely manner, and that all patients experiencing chest pains have an ECG heart test.However, Mrs Kitt says they are measures which should already have been in place, and says much greater scrutiny is needed moving forwards.

“I have seen the action plan put in place by the Trust, which is meant to prevent something like this happening again, but in my opinion it is totally inadequate,” she said.

“It talks of ensuring blood tests are checked, but how on earth can that be an improvement? That was a basic requirement of the job already, as the consultant admitted.

“How is this being measured now, and is it being checked to ensure that these mistakes are not being made again? The consultant knew he should have checked blood results, he just didn’t do it for my husband.

“I need proper answers and we need to see clear evidence of changes. Sadly it seems that in order to get that you have to take legal action.

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Hospital failed to check blood tests and missed heart attack of patient who died days later

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