Hospital failure to prevent a heart attack

Case report – RS –v- North Bristol NHS Trust/

The Claimant had attended Accident & Emergency at Frenchay Hospital Bristol with a four-day history of worsening chest and left arm pain – a classic presentation for patients with cardiac symptoms. The A&E doctors obtained an ECG and took blood tests, but failed to arrange repeat tests after a few hours to assess the Troponin-T level. Trop-T is a chemical released into the blood when patients are suffering from coronary artery disease.

The Claimant was discharged home the same day, when in fact he should have been kept in for further observation. That evening at home, he suffered a massive heart attack and was readmitted to hospital to undergo emergency stenting surgery.

A claim was brought on the basis that North Bristol NHS Trust failed to diagnose acute coronary artery syndrome and instigate appropriate treatment, namely clot-busting drugs, a statin and beta-blocker – to prevent the heart attack.

The Trust admitted liability for negligence and judgment was entered by the Court.

Fortunately, the Claimant made a good recovery from his cardiac symptoms following angioplasty and stenting surgery. However, he continued to suffer significant psychological symptoms of flashbacks and panic attacks relating to his heart attack. He became convinced that he would suffer another cardiac arrest and had to give up his career which involved working in a stressful environment in confined spaces.

A payment on account of damages was obtained so that the Claimant could undergo private psychological counselling to aid his recovery. He made excellent progress and embarked on a new career. After undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy, the Claimant was finally able to come to terms with what had happened and look forward to the future.

Davies and Partners’ team settled a claim through negotiation for £110,000 damages.

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