Daughter Slams Hospital For Failure To Apologise – Four Years After Errors Caused Mother’s Death

Specialist Medical Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Seeking Reassurance That Lessons Have Been Learned From NHS Mistakes


The daughter of a lady who died when a hospital’s failure to diagnose her easily recognisable symptoms caused ‘avoidable’ delays in her treatment has criticised the NHS for failing to apologise for its errors – more than four years on from her mother’s death.

Elizabeth Dodd, from Crewe, died aged 67 on 9 February 2007 following surgery to remove gallstones at Leighton Hospital. She had developed sepsis after a delay in the treatment of a colon perforation. 

Medical law specialists at Irwin Mitchell solicitors negotiated an out of court settlement with the Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which admitted Mrs Dodd would have made a full recovery if the complications had been treated earlier. 

Although Mrs Dodd had complained of shortness of breath and a whistling noise in her bile drain – a common sign of bowel perforation after surgery – doctors failed to diagnose or treat her condition.

By the time it was finally spotted, four days after the initial surgery, Mrs Dodd had already developed sepsis.

Despite this admission, the Trust is yet to apologise for its mistakes – more than four years after Mrs Dodd’s death.

Sharon Williams, a specialist solicitor in the medical law team at Irwin Mitchell, says that the NHS must learn important lessons from its errors in Mrs Dodd’s case and hopes that the Trust will now issue an apology to Mrs Dodd’s family.

She said: “Mrs Dodd was the victim of a tragic mistake which had devastating ramifications for her and her family. Damage to the bowel is recognised complication after patients undergo surgery to remove gallstones. Doctors should have been aware of this and been extra vigilant when reviewing Mrs Dodd after surgery.

“Had her condition been identified sooner, steps could have been taken to repair the damage to the colon immediately, and with prompt action, Mrs Dodd would have gone on to make a full recovery.

“This was a basic and avoidable error which should never have occurred, and it is vital that the NHS learns lessons from this to prevent a similar case occurring in the future.

“Nobody should have to go through the trauma that Mrs Dodd and her family have had to experience and it is extremely disappointing that, so long after Mrs Dodd’s death, the Trust is still yet to apologise to her family.”

Mrs Dodd had initially been admitted to Leighton Hospital to undergo routine surgery to remove gallstones on 17 January 2007, three weeks before her death.

Just two days after surgery a Senior House Officer referred Mrs Dodd to be examined by a Registrar, and although she was complaining of shortness of breath and a whistling noise from her bile drain, the registrar concluded that her condition was stable and instructed nurses to remove the drain.

Although Mrs Dodd continued to suffer from symptoms she was not reviewed again until two days later when a surgical specialist discovered she had suffered a perforated colon.

She then twice underwent emergency surgery in the following days, but she had already become septic. Her condition deteriorated and she sadly died just over two weeks later.

Jeanette Heath, Mrs Dodd’s daughter, said: “my mother’s death has left a massive void in our lives and our whole family is absolutely devastated.

“We were under the impression that the surgery was routine, so when we found out there were complications that could have been avoided it left us distraught.

“Nothing can be done to bring her back, but we feel that the very least we deserve is an apology. We also want to be reassured that the Trust has taken steps to make sure similar mistakes cannot happen in the future. No one should have to go through what my mum did and what we have had to go through over the past four years.”