Son Of Dad Who Died After Routine Liver Biopsy Speaks Of Family Heartache After Inquest

Medical Law Experts Call On NHS Trust To Improve Training In Post-Biopsy Care


Lawyers acting for the devastated family of a father-of-two who died after suffering internal bleeding following a routine liver biopsy are calling on the hospital trust to improve training in post-operative care.

Ron Shute died in January 2011 at the Weston General Hospital from heart failure, just hours after undergoing a liver biopsy. Following an inquest into his death at Avon Coroner’s Court today (21 June), the Assistant Deputy Coroner Mr Terence Moore recorded a verdict of a narrative verdict.

The 74-year-old from Weston-Super-Mare left behind his heartbroken wife of 52 years, Janet, also 74, son Gary, 52, and daughter Nicola, 49, who have all now joined calls from medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell representing the family for Weston Area Health NHS Trust to improve its training to prevent further mistakes in future.

The biopsy, carried out with ultrasound guidance, is considered a relatively safe procedure, but internal bleeding is a known risk and the Trust’s own guidelines state that patients should be monitored closely post-operatively and prompt action taken should bleeding occur something Ron’s family and lawyers say the staff involved in Ron’s treatment failed to do.

Jonathan Peacock, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office representing the family, said: “The hospital started with the best of intentions, deciding it would be safe for Ron to undergo the biopsy with ultrasound, but he was let down by inadequate post-operative care. We believe that with proper monitoring Ron would have survived this complication and this has left his family struggling to come to terms with his death.

“Internal bleeding is a well known risk with this procedure but when Ron showed obvious signs their significance was not appreciated and further investigations and treatment were fatally delayed.

“We believe that, had Ron been reviewed by someone with more experience, steps would have been taken to stop the bleeding and ultimately prevent a cardiac arrest. The trust needs to improve its training of staff to recognise the symptoms and seriousness of internal bleeding and call for senior support to treat it quickly and appropriately.

“We have repeatedly called for patient safety to be the top priority throughout the NHS and, by taking steps to prevent the same mistakes happening again, the trust will show it is working towards that.”

Ron cycled 30 to 40 miles each day well into his 70s but had ongoing heart problems and was diagnosed with a low grade lymphoma (cancer of the white blood cells) in August 2010. After suffering pain in his liver for a couple of months, he was booked in for a liver biopsy on 19 January 2011 to see if the cancer had spread.

His family were told all had gone well as he was brought back onto the recovery ward but over the next four hours Ron’s health rapidly deteriorated.

His son Gary said: “We had been told the biopsy would be straight forward and Dad would be out of hospital the same day but when he was on the recovery ward he said to my mum he was bleeding where the sample had been taken and was very shivery.

“His blood pressure was very low and the nurses began talking about not having enough experience to cope with him. A doctor was called but he took nearly half an hour to arrive and as soon as he took a blood sample, Dad started losing consciousness and the monitoring machines started urgently beeping.

“They tried to resuscitate him but it was too late and he died without even being transferred to the intensive care ward. We were just all in a complete state of shock. We were never told the biopsy could be fatal and there seemed to be no sense of urgency when he began suffering problems.

“We believe Dad would still be alive if medical staff had called for senior assistance sooner who would have treated him appropriately. We know nothing will bring Dad back but we hope the hospital improve the standards of their post-operative care so no one else has to go through what we have.”