November 12, 2020

£85,000 settlement for fatally negligent failure to monitor aortic stenosis

P was diagnosed with mild aortic stenosis (a narrowing in the aorta – the main artery that pumps oxygenated blood around the body) in 1999.

As is standard procedure, P was monitored periodically for aortic stenosis, and was reviewed formally in 2003. Clinicians will normally monitor the condition in this way as it does worsen over time (the disease process has been understood since the 1950s). When the disease becomes severe, symptoms will usually worsen and treatment in the form aortic valve surgery is given.

The negligence

P’s condition was reviewed again in 2005 by a locum cardiologist at the Great Western Hospital. For whatever reason, following this review, no plan was made or recorded for further monitoring, and the GP practice was not advised of the need to have a monitoring plan in place.

From approximately 2009 onwards, P became increasingly breathless, and complained about this to his GP in March 2009. In October 2011, P again presented to his GP complaining of a chesty cough and of feeling unwell.

P was referred for echocardiography (an ultrasound investigation) following his presentation at a Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic on 20 April 2012. He then developed breathlessness two days later and was taken to the Great Western Hospital, and admitted. The presence of severe aortic stenosis was recorded.

Following his admission, P was listed for aortic valve replacement surgery, initially at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and thereafter at the John Radcliffe Hospital. He then developed hospital-acquired pneumonia and his condition deteriorated. He died in May 2012.

The claim

P’s widow issued a claim and served proceedings. It was her case that P’s treatment was negligent, in that there was a failure to institute monitoring of his condition of aortic stenosis in 2005, and/or to advise his GP of the necessity of instituting such monitoring.

Had the appropriate monitoring been instituted, then it is more likely than not that the deterioration of P’s aortic valve stenosis would have been monitored more effectively, and valve surgery would have been expedited. He would have undergone that surgery successfully and would not have died.

It was necessary to serve proceedings at court and as a result we managed to settle the case for P’s wife at £85,000.

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