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Chingford Woman Receives Settlement from NHS Trust following Husband's Death

Our medical negligence solicitors have secured a six-figure settlement for a Chingford woman whose husband died when a London hospital failed to diagnose his deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Winston Allen died on 14 September 2012 at the age of 55 after suffering a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis in both legs.

In the days before his death, he had suffered with dizziness, difficulty breathing and nausea and was rushed to Whipps Cross Hospital in an ambulance.

Tests at the hospital, which is operated by Barts Health NHS Trust, noted Winston had a fast pulse and a clotting test provided abnormal results. Tests also showed that he was hypoxic, which means that his circulatory system was not transporting oxygen around his body properly.

An ECG also showed classic signs of pulmonary embolism - a blockage in the pulmonary artery, a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs.

Nonetheless, Winston was not examined by a Registrar and was discharged with a diagnosis of diabetes. The hospital prescribed medication and advised him to drink more water. His medical records suggest that DVT was considered as a possibility, but overlooked at the time.

Just two days later, Winston began suffering severe breathing difficulties at home. An ambulance was called and paramedics performed CPR for 45 minutes. Sadly he did not respond to treatment and his family were told that he had died when they arrived at Whipps Cross Hospital.

Barts Health NHS Trust admitted liability for Winston’s death and Michelle’s specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now secured her a six-figure compensation settlement. The Trust admitted liability in July 2014 but the case did not settle for a further two years, adding further distress for the family.

An internal investigation into Winston’s death identified a number of concerns about Winston’s care and stated that Michelle should receive a formal apology, which she did not receive for over a year.

The investigation also identified that Whipps Cross Hospital failed to report the incident despite a Trust policy to do so in such cases.

At an inquest into Winston’s death in November 2013, a doctor at the hospital admitted that he had not read the recent guidelines stating that patients like Winston should be admitted. The inquest also heard that the doctor who misdiagnosed Winston did not actually see him in person, but was relayed his symptoms over the phone by a colleague.

Holly Cossutta, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who represents Michelle, said:

“Michelle feels that Winston was badly let down by the hospital and decided to take legal action as she was concerned others may suffer in a similar way. Her ultimate priority throughout this legal action has been to find out exactly what went wrong so that lessons could be learned to hopefully prevent future deaths.”

Michelle said: “I’m still struggling to come to terms with Winston’s death and the impact it has had on my life.

“To find out that his death could have been prevented if different decisions had been made and if the pulmonary embolism had been diagnosed was devastating. To add insult to injury the hospital failed to adequately respond to my complaint, failed to admit liability quickly and then took a long time to settle the claim, all of which caused me considerable distress.

“I have a cancer diagnosis myself and feel angry at the way in which the Trust has treated me since my husband died. I hope that by drawing attention to the long wait I have faced will encourage NHS Trusts to settle cases where it has admitted liability quickly to allow people to begin to move on with their lives in the best way they can.

“I sincerely hope that lessons have been learned and that other people will not have to go through the pain we have since Winston’s death.”

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a misdiagnosed condition, our medical negligence solicitors may be able to help. See our medical misdiagnosis claims page for more information.

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