Avoidable Deaths Every Month Due To Poor Heart Attack Follow Up Care

New Study Suggests Thousands Of Fatalities Could Have Been Prevented

10.05.2016

Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

Thousands of people die unnecessarily every year after a heart attack due to poor NHS follow-up care, according to a new study.

Leading medical negligence experts at national law firm Irwin Mitchell has labelled the findings ‘worrying’ and called for protocols to be put in place that ensure everyone receives the right level of  aftercare following such a serious health scare.

The findings, by academics from Leeds University and University College London, have been published today (Tuesday 10 May) in the European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care.

They involve the 40,000 people a year who suffer from the most common form of heart attack, a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction.

The study found that 85% of these patients missed out on at least one of the treatments that have been proven to reduce their risk of having another heart attack.

According to researchers, those failures and an “unacceptable deficit in care” led to 33,000 avoidable deaths between 2003 and 2013 in England and Wales.

Dr Chris Gale, an associate professor of cardiovascular health sciences at the Leeds Institute of cardiovascular and metabolic medicine and the lead author of the report said: “What we’ve highlighted here is the unacceptable deficit in the care being given to people after they’ve had an NSTEMI heart attack.

“We calculate that roughly one patient per month, per hospital in England and Wales is losing their life as a direct consequence of this deficit”,

Guy Forster, a medical negligence specialist, feels that whilst there have been improvements over the years, more needs to be done to prevent an avoidable loss of lives. 

Expert Opinion
“It’s worrying to see the findings of this study and the suggestion that thousands of patients are not receiving the follow up care they need after a heart attack.

“There’s no question that the NHS do a great job on a daily basis saving the lives of people who suddenly suffer unexpected heart problems. Further to this the immediate and long-term survival rates after a heart attack have improved since the ten year period the research was taken from.

“However, it’s vital that once a patient has been released from hospital that they get the correct medical care and guidance they need to reduce the possibilities of another attack and it is clear that this doesn’t always happen.

“Aftercare guidelines are in place but it’s clear from this research that not all patients are guaranteed what should be standard practice after such a serious health scare.

“If follow up care is routinely being missed then new protocols may need to be introduced to guarantee patients don’t miss out on the scans, treatment support, and advice that ultimately save lives.”
Guy Forster, Partner