The family of a 34-year-old man who died of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) after rupturing his Achilles tendon playing football are taking legal action against the hospital which failed to spot his life was in danger.
Whipps Cross University Hospital is facing legal action for failing to investigate the possible development of DVT in Michael Osborne, despite ‘increasing warning signs’ in the days before his death.
Hudgell Solicitors are acting on the behalf of Mr Osborne’s family and say he was ‘at clear risk’ as he was clinically obese, had suffered the injury to his lower leg, and was restricted from moving it whilst in a cast.
Solicitor Jodi Newton says doctors had ‘numerous opportunities’ to assess the risk to him and failed to do so.
Mr Osborne’s family are also critical of the hospital as it initially disputed how many times he had been seen since suffering the injury, and before his death last September.
The hospital initially claimed Mr Osborne had last been seen at the fracture clinic on September 18.
However, his family claim he visited the hospital four times after that date as he was concerned about the increasing pain in his leg.
He last visited the hospital just three days before he died, when his cast was changed – something Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, only finally admitted in April of this year (7months after his death).
Medical negligence claims specialist Jodi Newton, of Hudgell Solicitors, says each visit represented a ‘missed opportunity to conduct a DVT assessment and a missed chance to save his life’.
Mr Osborne died on September 30, 2017, three weeks after he had been taken to the hospital in Waltham Forest, London with his football injury. His cause of death was recorded as a blood clot in his lungs, with the deep vein thrombosis and his ruptured left Achilles tendon as contributory factors.
At an inquest, coroner for the Eastern District of London, Ms Nadia Persaud, concluded that the hospital’s failure to give Mr Osborne blood-thinning medication had contributed to his death.
She found that Mr Osborne’s death would likely have been saved had he been offered the medication from any point after suffering his injury on September 11 to September 28 – a 17 day period in which he was seen on at least five occasions.
She said: “Had anti-coagulation been offered, it is likely to have been accepted and on the balance of probabilities, Mr Osborne’s death would have been avoided.”
Sister ‘disgusted’ at dispute over number of visits to hospital
Mr Osborne’s sister, Patricia Riley, 44, says she has been ‘disgusted’ by the approach of Barts Health NHS Trust.
She said: “The fact that the hospital failed to make the relevant, most basic assessments which would have saved my brother losing his life is bad enough, but what has really added to the devastation and pains me has been the way they have responded after his death.
“Barts Health NHS Trust talks about transparency and honesty, but when Michael died they tried to suggest he had only been there three times, on the day of his injury, the day after and then seven days later in the fracture clinic.
“We had to prove he was there on more occasions and we did so by looking back though the pictures and videos he had taken and shared via social media, which showed him in Whipps Cross.
“How can a hospital’s record keeping be so poor? They initially said they had no record of him being seen numerous times or when he was in the plaster room three days before he died. How can this be right?
“As Barts Health NHS Trust claimed no records of some of Mike’s visits, how on earth could he have received continued care? It is absurd and disgusting.
“One of the times Michael called me from hospital he was in pain and said he was worried. He said to me that they were treating him like he was a hypochondriac. He was talking about going private because they were ‘only playing with the cast’ and I really wish I persuaded him to, as he would still have been here now.
“The fact that they had no idea of when he had been in hospital, and initially denied he had been there on more occasions, was bad enough, but his medical notes also disappeared and it leaves more questions than answers. It makes me feel very angry and have zero trust for the hospital or the Trust.
“Do all patients of Barts Health NHS Trust need to turn on their cameras as they walk in to one of its hospitals to prove they were there and seen? God forbid if anything happens to patients who don’t keep their own evidence and all the best to any family trying to prove that the patient was actually at the Trust.
“I want serious questions to be asked as to how such basic mistakes can be made which cost people their lives. There certainly should never be any dispute over when a patient was or was not in hospital. If a hospital doesn’t know when patients are there, what hope have we got?
“It’s appalling that we had to provide photographic evidence and social media chats before the hospital retracted and confirmed that Mike attended more times that they initially claimed.”
Solicitor says evidence points to ‘negligent care and breach of duty’
As part of ongoing legal investigations, specialist lawyer Ms Newton says she is concerned the hospital had no record of assessments being carried out to investigate possible DVT symptoms on each occasion.
She said: “Mr Osborne was at clear risk of developing venous thromboembolism. He was clinically obese and was placed in a plaster cast and told not to weight-bear. The hospital failed to carry out assessments for venous thromboembolism, which we feel was a clear breach of duty of care.
“It is the opinion of independent experts that had such a risk assessment been carried out, it is likely he would have been recognised as being at higher than average risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis and would have been offered the appropriate medication.
“It is also believed he would not have gone on to suffer a deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus, and therefore would not have died.
“It is our view that the failure to assess Mr Osborne for the risk of venous thromboembolism represents a breach of duty that was a contributory cause of his death. There is nothing in the medical documentation to suggest that this risk was seriously considered.
“There are obviously also huge concerns over the documentation and recording of patient information given we had to investigate ‘missing days’ where our client knew her brother had been in hospital, but which the hospital initially denied.
“It was only admitted that Mr Osborne had indeed attended at the hospital on more occasions after we presented evidence.
“That is very poor and paints a picture of scratchy, un-coordinated medical care. Each visit to hospital was a ‘missed opportunity to conduct a DVT assessment and a missed chance to save his life.”
“We welcome the findings of the coroner, in that Michael could have been saved, and that the failure to offer blood-thinning medication, given there were three clear risk factors for developing a DVT, contributed to his death.”
Mr Osborne had been taken to the hospital in Waltham Forest, London, by ambulance on September 11.
He was put in a plaster cast and discharged with pain relief medication and advised to rest, elevate his leg and use crutches to walk.
Despite an x-ray of his left ankle revealing a 7mm tear the next day, specialists decided against operating and he was told to attend at the fracture clinic seven days after his injury had been suffered. At that visit he was told he would need a further three weeks in a cast and a period of time wearing a boot with wedges, by which time he should be able to walk again.
However, as he was suffering continuing pain, Mr Osborne returned to hospital a further three times, and called on the telephone on one occasion, in a period of nine days to express concern that something more serious was wrong.
Mr Osborne collapsed in the back of a taxi after visiting friends on September 30. He could not be resuscitated and died.