DVT death after failure to properly examine patient

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) death caused by medical negligence

14.09.2006

The General Medical Council is hearing how an elderly patient died from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) just days after a GP failed to properly examine his swollen leg during an appointment.

The 74-year-old pensioner visited Dr Wulf Franzen at the Redgate Medical Centre in Bridgwater, Somerset, on 28 October 2003, complaining of shortness of breath.

But the patient told his daughter that during the eight-minute appointment the doctor just "glanced" at his leg. His blood pressure was not taken, no ECG or blood tests were ordered and the consultation was inadequately recorded.

Dr Franzen, originally from Germany, moved to the UK in 1988. He said he was concerned about heart failure, chronic obstructive airways disease or malignancy so had referred the patient for a chest X-ray. The doctor said he did not take the patient's blood pressure because he believed it would be artificially high "as a result of the patient's anxiety and the 'white coat effect' of seeing an unfamiliar doctor."

However, after the pensioner's condition deteriorated, his family returned to the surgery with him the next day but still Dr Franzen failed to examine his legs, check his blood pressure or pulse or listen to his chest.

Eventually on 1 November 1, one of the patient's daughters rang the practice and explained to Dr Franzen that her father was experiencing shortness of breath, was too frightened to move because of dizziness, had a tingling feeling in his left leg and looked yellow and waxy. Yet despite the family's obvious concern, the doctor again failed to refer the patient to hospital, arrange a home visit or request that he visit the surgery.

As he was not in a position to make an adequate assessment of the patient's condition Dr Franzen also inappropriately prescribed medication to the patient and failed to explain this decision to the family.

DVT death

Unfortunately the patient died of a pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis a day later on 2 November 2003.

Although Dr Franzen has admitted a number of the charges, he denies his behaviour was inappropriate or unprofessional.

The hearing continues.