Clinical Negligence

Inquest: coroner criticises the GP for failing to do a home visit

This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who recently represented the family of a Tunbridge Wells mother of six children aged between six months and sixteen years who died from an overwhelming infection in February 2009.

In February 2009 Mrs P was ill with flu like symptoms, diarrhoea and vomiting. She felt hot, was unsteady on her feet and her breathing was rapid. Mr P asked his eldest daughter, H, to go to the GP’s surgery and request a home visit. H walked to the surgery which was only two minutes from their house and spoke to the receptionist. She described her mother’s symptoms and asked for a GP to visit her. She was told that someone would telephone that evening. The family received no telephone call that evening and the next day Mrs P seemed a little brighter.

However, at about 8.00am the following morning H found her mother in bed ill with alarming symptoms. H ran to the nearby GP surgery to ask someone to visit but was told that no one was available. She returned home and Mr P called an ambulance. Mrs P was taken to hospital and admitted to the ITU. Sadly she passed away two days later from an overwhelming infection.

The inquest took place on 18 March 2010. The Coroner was critical of the GP for not making a home visit when she was unable to get through by telephone. The Coroner delivered a verdict of death by misadventure contributed to by the way the GP surgery had dealt with an emergency situation.

The family are considering taking legal action to recover damages for clinical negligence.

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