£85,000 compensation after nurse’s ECG error

17 March 2022

Leading West Midlands law firm Higgs LLP has secured £85,000 in medical negligence compensation after a man died from a pulmonary embolism hours after being discharged from hospital.

Higgs acted for a mother whose adult son had passed away as a result of deep vein thrombosis after leaving hospital following a total hip replacement.

He had undergone multiple ECGs, including one two days after his operation as he was suffering from a shortness of breath and chest discomfort.

This ECG had been reviewed by a Nurse Practitioner only, who had incorrectly advised a Consultant Physician that the results were normal and, based on that advice, the deceased was discharged the following day.

Hours after returning home the man collapsed and, despite the best efforts of the ambulance team who attended, died from an avoidable pulmonary embolism.

Charlotte Measures, Legal Director in the Medical Negligence team at Higgs LLP, acted on behalf of the client to secure £85,000 in compensation, including £75,000 for Loss of Service.

Loss of Service was awarded as the deceased left two dependants – his elderly widowed mother and his sister – and he had supported both with daily tasks including cooking, shopping and driving.

Charlotte said: “As a result of the failure by the Nurse Practitioner to exercise due care and skill in reviewing the ECG before the deceased was discharged, or for it to be reviewed by a Consultant Physician, the client’s son had passed away from a pulmonary embolism which could have been avoided.

“Consequently, the deceased’s mother sought legal advice from the Clinical Negligence team at Higgs LLP and a claim was brought on behalf of the deceased’s dependants for Loss of Service as well as a Pain Suffering and Loss of Amenity (PSLA) claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

“Expert evidence concluded that had the ECG been accurately reviewed, a branch blockage would have been diagnosed and steps could have been taken to avoid the deceased’s pulmonary embolism.

“Expert evidence, including a report from an Expert Physician and Geriatrician, concluded there had been a clear failing by the NHS Trust resulting in the death of the claimant’s son and this failure was admitted by the NHS Trust. “

The deceased’s mother suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease as well as mild arthritis and high blood pressure. His sister suffered from Fibromyalgia, which caused serious pain with her sometimes unable to even get out of bed.

Charlotte added: “The key issue was determining an adequate amount of recompense for the loss of care and support resulting from the death.

“This required sensitive handling and expertise given the complicated nature of assessing the value of services the deceased had supplied to date and the future needs of the two dependants given their medical conditions and potential deterioration.

“Consequently, Higgs LLP obtained witness and expert evidence, including Loss of Service and Life Expectancy reports for all three family members.”

As well as the compensation, the family also received a formal apology from the Trust for the negligence and subsequent loss the family had suffered.

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