Jennifer Waight, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) offices, has secured £14,000 for the widower of a woman who died after her GP failed to take a full a medical history and to appreciate the seriousness of her condition.
The deceased was a 63 year old women who had undergone a heart and lung transplant in the early 1990s due to suffering from Eisenmenger’s syndrome. She also had type 2 insulin dependent diabetes and hypertension as well having known chronic renal disease and peripheral vascular disease.
In October 2009 the deceased was unwell. She and her husband had been suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea since 8pm the previous evening. At 09:40am the deceased’s husband called Milton Keynes Urgent Care Services to request that a doctor attend his wife at home as he was concerned about her condition.
The deceased’s husband gave full details of his wife’s past medical history including all her medications. He also informed them that she had been vomiting, had uncontrollable diarrhoea and a temperature of 38ºC. It is understood that the full past medical history was not passed to the GP.
The GP arrived at 11:45am and he gave the deceased an anti-emetic (anti-sickness) injection as well as Imodium for her diarrhoea. He took the deceased’s blood pressure which was extremely low (60/42 and 70/42) however he did not note this on his records.
That afternoon the deceased’s husband called the out of hours service again explaining that he was very concerned and felt his wife had deteriorated. She had not vomited due to the injection but continued to have terrible diarrhoea, her breathing was laboured and she was dizzy on standing.
At 16:50pm the triage nurse called the deceased’s husband and took details again of her medical history. A different GP attended their home at 18:05pm. He was concerned and telephoned an ambulance and completed a referral form.
On arrival at Milton Keynes General Hospital the deceased’s blood pressure was unrecordable. She was resuscitated in the emergency department. Sadly during initial treatment she suffered a cardiac arrest and was found to be in multi organ failure from dehydration and septic shock. She passed away 23 days later.
Jennifer Waight acted for the deceased’s husband claiming that the first GP had been negligent in failing to take a detailed history when he attended the deceased. It was argued that if he had taken a full history he would have realised that she was a hypertensive insulin dependent diabetic who was on multiple medications including an immunosuppressant and Prednisolone. This meant that she had a reduced ability to overcome the infection from which she was suffering, as was evident by her high temperature of 38˚C.
Any competent GP faced with these facts would have realised that the continuing diarrhoea was likely to make the deceased dehydrated and cause electrolyte disturbances which would further destabilise her condition. This should have led him to refer her to hospital immediately.
Jennifer was able to obtain £14,000 in compensation for the deceased’s husband to compensate him for his loss as well as to pay towards the funeral costs.
Jennifer Waight specialises in clinical negligence cases. If you would like to ask Jennifer a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any clinical negligence, contact her at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701374 in confidence.