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  • Overview

    Fiona Mills, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) Offices, has secured over £340,000 for the family of a women who died following a delay in the diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis and cerebral oedema.

    The claimants were the family of a 29 year old woman, ‘W’, who went to see her general practitioner (the defendant) based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire in 2007 after experiencing a dry mouth, excessive thirst, shortness of breath and vomiting for three weeks. She had lost a lot of weight during this period.

    The GP informed ‘W’ that he was certain she had developed diabetes and after undertaking a urine test, which had highlighted high glucose levels, had failed to check her serum glucose. Instead he sent ‘W’ to the local hospital for the blood test which was not analysed until the following morning.

    The following day ‘W’s condition continued to worsen with continued vomiting. The GP advised that ‘W’ should be taken to hospital and she was taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital later that morning. The GP completed a referral for her to be seen by the clinical decisions unit (CDU) explaining her medical background and the tests he had undertaken.

    The GP then received ‘W’s serum glucose results which were very high but failed to pass this information to the CDU. As a result the CDU failed to appreciate that ‘W’s condition was life threatening, leading to a delay in her diagnosis and treatment.

    The delay in receiving the blood test results meant that the ‘W’s condition had deteriorated substantially by the time the CDU realised she had diabetic ketoacidosis. By this time she had fallen into a coma requiring intubation and life support. A CT scan revealed that she had an extensive cerebral oedema in her brain (a rare complication of diabetic ketoacidosis) and she died four days later.

    As a result of her death the claimant (‘W’s husband) developed post traumatic stress disorder.

    After requesting expert reports from a GP expert, a consultant physician, an expert in accident and emergency care, and a consultant psychiatrist we were able to obtain a settlement of £305,000 for the claimant as well as a separate award of £35,000 for their daughter, who was a minor. This was to compensate them for their pain, and suffering as well as to compensate them for their loss of dependence upon ‘W’s income.

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