£190,000 for Trust’s failure to diagnose heart attack

01 December 2022

Jenny Tetlow, Senior Associate in the medical negligence team, secured a settlement of £190,000 for a client whose cardiac symptoms were ignored, leading to permanent damage.

Jenny was instructed to act for a man whose pre-existing conditions included diabetes and hypertension. Higgs’ client attended his GP surgery in 2017 to report symptoms of dizziness. An ECG taken at the surgery produced abnormal results and a blood test revealed an elevated troponin level. Troponin is a protein that is released into the bloodstream during a heart attack and the early detection of troponin can aid a diagnosis and ensure swift treatment.

In view of these abnormalities, the GP correctly referred the man to hospital for further investigation. Despite his abnormal cardiac symptoms, the man was placed on a diabetic ward for monitoring.

Jenny commented: “My client remained an inpatient for three days but during this time was only reviewed by the cardiology team once. Crucially though, no further troponin tests were carried out. As a result, the clinicians incorrectly concluded that my client’s symptoms were related to his diabetes and the possibility of a cardiac cause was mistakenly ruled out.”

Following his discharge the man’s dizzy spells continued, and in 2018 he suffered from an intense burning pain across his shoulders and back. The man presented to his GP where further ECGs and blood tests were taken. Again, the results were abnormal. The man was again referred to hospital and was later told that he had suffered a heart attack and would require stenting to widen his arteries. Unfortunately, due to the man’s decline in renal function, he was not deemed fit enough to undergo the surgery to insert stents. As a result, his life expectancy was reduced.

Higgs obtained independent expert evidence on behalf of its client which confirmed that the hospital’s failure in 2017 to carry out further troponin level testing amounted to a breach of duty of care. Had repeat troponin level testing been carried out, an angiogram would have been mandated. An angiogram is akin to an X-ray and produces a clear image of the heart’s blood vessels. An angiogram will identify any restriction of blood flow to the heart. The expert explained that had an angiogram been done, it would have identified critical lesions in the right coronary artery. The right coronary artery would then have been stented which would have prevented the man’s subsequent heart attack and resultant damage. At that time the client would have been able to undergo surgery to insert stents.

After obtaining evidence from a Consultant Cardiologist, a Letter of Claim outlining the allegations of negligence was served on the Defendant Trust. When the Defendant served their Letter of Response several months later, they denied liability in full.

Jenny said: “It is not unheard of to receive a blanket denial of liability despite us having obtained strongly supportive expert evidence. Tellingly, there were a number of inaccuracies within the Letter of Response. For example, at one point the Defendant argued that a repeat troponin reading had been taken but then denied there was a requirement to conduct a repeat troponin test. We reverted to our expert who maintained his support for the claim which assisted when preparing a counter-argument to send to the Defendant.”

After challenging the Defendant’s response Higgs received an offer to settle the claim for £190,000. After considering this offer in conference with the client, the expert and Counsel, the client provided instructions to accept the sum on his behalf.

Jenny commented: “I was thrilled to achieve this result for my client who had been truly let down by the clinicians at the Defendant hospital, not just during his admission but during the litigation process also.”

Read more about our experience with

Speak to an expert

Forging and maintaining strong long-term relationships with our clients is of utmost importance to us.