Out Of Court Settlement After GP Admits Life Threatening DVT Was Missed

GP failed to detect Deep Vein Thrombosis

08.04.2010

A 34 year old Walsall woman has received a substantial five figure out of court compensation settlement after her GP failed to detect that she was suffering from a potentially fatal Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

The DVT which went undiagnosed for 15 days, led to a life threatening blood clot in the lungs. The GP responsible has since admitted failings in her care and a medical negligence expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors says she hopes lessons have been learned to prevent similar mistakes happening to other patients.

Suzanne Badhams from Yew Tree Estate, Walsall, a former staff trainer with the NHS, went to see her GP on 19th September 2006 after she began suffering pain on the outside of her right calf. 

At her first appointment, she raised concerns that this might be a DVT, as she was aware of a family history of the condition.  However, after a brief examination, her GP assured her that she was suffering from muscle pain and prescribed a support bandage and ibuprofen.

The pain became worse and 8 days later Ms Badhams returned to her surgery where she saw a different doctor and again drew attention to her family history of DVT. 

Following this she underwent blood tests, but despite the results showing an abnormality which should have alerted the GP to the possibility of a DVT, they were not properly acted upon and a practice nurse told Sue that the blood results had come back as “all clear.”

On the morning of 4th October, Suzanne’s condition deteriorated further.  She recalls: “I felt dizzy and faint and couldn’t walk without my Dad’s help. When I went to the bathroom, suddenly I knew something was seriously wrong.  I couldn’t even make it back to bed; I had to lie on the bathroom floor.” 

Her father called an ambulance and paramedics who attended found that her blood pressure was dangerously low.  She was rushed to A&E at Sandwell Hospital where a life-threatening pulmonary embolism was discovered.   

Doctors informed her that she was lucky to have survived the life threatening embolism.  She was admitted to the intensive care unit, where she remained for six days.

Dr Alakshendra Kushwaha, a General Practitioner at Broadway Medical Centre, on Broadway, Walsall, admitted liability for failures in Ms Badhams’ care in relation to the blood test results and has paid out a substantial undisclosed five figure sum in compensation for her injuries. As a result of what happened to Ms Badhams, the surgery has also agreed to change the way it reviews and reports the results of patient blood tests.

The experience has had a dramatic impact on Ms Badham’s life.  She said: “I know I’m lucky to be alive, but my life shouldn’t have been threatened in the first place.  My whole life has been changed by this horrific experience.

“When I left hospital in October I had to self inject clot-busting drugs every day for two months. I am now on Warfarin and I have been told that I may need to keep taking this for the rest of my life.  I’ve also been told that I have to wear compression stockings all the time.

“I don’t really like going out much anymore.  It’s brought on sleep problems, flashbacks and nightmares and I have had to have a lot of time off work.”

Caroline Stokes, a medical negligence expert with Irwin Mitchell solicitors, represented Suzanne in her legal claim.  She said: “This was a fundamental error that could have ended in tragedy and clearly could have been avoided if the GP had acted appropriately.

“I am particularly concerned that, at the time, the surgery did not appear to have proper procedures in place for flagging up abnormal blood test results. Since this incident, the surgery has confirmed its intention to change procedures.

“Fortunately Suzanne is here to tell her story, but she is greatly concerned that her health reached such a critical stage without an accurate diagnosis and treatment being offered to her.  She very much hopes that lessons have now been learned so that nothing like this will happen again.”

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical misdiagnosis, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.