Family receives sizeable compensation after misdiagnosis

25 April 2023

A family has been awarded almost £250,000 after incorrect diagnosis led to the fatal heart attack of a 49-year-old man.

A hospital trust settled the case for £230,000 after a four-year battle following failures that ultimately led to the death of Andrew Slaney.

Clare Langford, Partner in our medical negligence team acted on behalf of the family and described the settlement as an “excellent result”.

In 2018 father-of-four Mr Slaney went to his doctor with severe chest pains and aching going down his arms.

He was prescribed ibuprofen and was referred to the hospital for further investigations. His blood tests revealed abnormalities and he was referred for an echocardiogram (ECG). 

However, he was informed that there was nothing to be concerned about and that the likely diagnosis was pericarditis, the treatment for which would be ibuprofen. 

Mr Slaney died six weeks later on April 15 and a post mortem revealed an enlarged heart and severe coronary artery disease.

Tragically, Andrew’s wife Daniella died of cancer less than six months later. 

Mr Slaney’s daughter Lucy Taylor continued the claim as executor for Mrs Slaney.

Clare said: “Mr Slaney had been taking medication to manage his high blood pressure since June 2012. He did not smoke, was not overweight and undertook regular exercise, but did have a family history of cardiology problems.

“Once referred to the hospital, Mr Slaney reported that he was having difficulty breathing and reported his family history.

“Despite this and abnormal results, he was told not to worry.

“On April 15 he returned from a bike ride with his wife and was again suffering from aching in his chest travelling down his arms. He took ibuprofen as instructed but within half an hour it was clear his symptoms were worsening so his wife called an ambulance.

“Whilst on the telephone to the call operator he passed out and his wife and children attempted CPR. Mr Slaney was taken to hospital by ambulance but, despite the resuscitation attempts, was sadly pronounced dead.”

Clare prepared a Letter of Claim alleging the Hospital Trust made an incorrect diagnosis of pericarditis, failed to adhere to national guidelines for the management of chest pain, failed to consider Mr Slaney’s abnormal blood test results, failed to consider alternative causes of chest pain and failed to arrange a review by a consultant cardiologist.

The Trust completely denied liability in their Letter of Response, but Clare noted that some specific allegations of negligence were not commented on at all. 

A Letter of Challenge was therefore sent to the Trust to ensure that it acknowledged all points. Despite this, its further Letter of Response still denied all liability.

Clare arranged a conference with medical experts but, shortly before the call, the Trust said it wanted to consider the possibility of making an offer of settlement.

Clare said: “We prepared a Schedule of Loss detailing all financial losses to Mr Slaney’s family as a result of the negligence and a meeting was arranged with the Trust’s lawyers to try and settle the matter.

“At the settlement meeting, the Trust made an offer of £230,000 which, when shared equally amongst Mr Slaney’s four children, would be a huge help to them all. It was an excellent result and Lucy and her siblings were very pleased to settle the case having had the emotional burden of pursuing it for over four years.”

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