Expert Lawyers Call For Lessons To Be Learnt After Mum-Of-Two Died During ‘Routine’ Surgery At Northern General
By Suzanne Rutter
The husband of a mum-of-two who died after a catalogue of errors before and after ‘routine’ surgery to remove a cyst is calling for lessons to be learnt by the hospital trust after independent medical evidence showed her death could have been prevented.
Louise Grant, of Ben Close in Sheffield, died almost two years ago on 28 July 2011 after undergoing surgery at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield to remove what doctors believed was a benign cyst on the outside of her lung.
Instead, because of errors in diagnosing the location of the cyst, the 45-year-old mother ended up undergoing a more complex operation removing a third of her lung. Louise also suffered from severe internal bleeding because of complications during surgery and an inquest at Sheffield Coroners Court heard that if she had undergone a second emergency operation around 20 minutes earlier she may well have survived.
Now expert medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell representing Louise’s husband, Shaun Grant, say that lessons must be learnt after a three day inquest into her death at Sheffield Coroner’s Court recorded a narrative verdict saying “there was a rare post-operative complication” in relation to the internal bleeding.
An independent medical expert instructed by the family told the inquest that there was evidence identifying a catalogue of errors, including:
• Tests clearly showed the lump was located inside Louise’s lung rather than outside and that a more invasive operation would be necessary;
• The surgeon should have carried out a more simple procedure to remove it – rather than removing a large part of Louise’s lung – which led to extensive internal bleeding;
• Surgeons carried out more complex surgery and removed part of Louise’s lung without her consent;
• That the severe internal bleeding should have been picked up when she suffered a sudden drop in blood pressure and she should have undergone further surgery immediately to control the bleeding. If she had been re-operated on around 20 minutes earlier, Louise would have survived.
Jenny Baker, a specialist medical lawyer from Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office is representing the family in their battle for justice against the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
She said: “The inquest has been such an emotional ordeal for the family who are still finding it incredibly difficult to come to terms with losing her following what should have been a simple operation.
“Our independent medical experts have told us that the trust made a number of major mistakes, from not detecting the location of the lump in Louise’s lung, to not getting her proper consent to remove part of her lung and the delay in dealing with the internal bleeding quickly enough to save her life.
“Following the inquest, we hope the trust will continue to work with us so we can provide Louise’s family with the justice they deserve. The family just want answers as to how this could happen and reassurances that lessons have been learned to prevent others from suffering the same fate. It is vital that these issues are addressed so that patient safety can be improved.”
Louise had been suffering from a persistent cough, a common side effect of the dugs she had been taking to alleviate high blood pressure. When doctors at the Northern General carried out further tests and scans they found a five centimetre lump, which they initially thought was attached to the soft tissue on the outside of her lung.
She was advised the lump was unlikely to be cancerous and could be easily removed during routine keyhole surgery with a swift recovery.
However, when surgeons operated on Louise they found the lump was in fact situated inside her lung and was partly filled with fluid, requiring a much more serious and complex procedure which Louise had not agreed to.
Following the inquest Louise’s husband Shaun said: “We are still absolutely devastated about losing Louise in such terrible circumstances and it’s something that we will never get over. I miss her every day. Our daughters, Hanna and Eleanor have also lost the love and guidance that only a Mum can provide.
“Louise only went ahead with the operation because she was told it was routine surgery and she would be back on her feet again after two or three days as an in-patient. She was so convinced the procedure was routine and that she would be ok, she told me to go to work as normal. Like any loving husband I ignored her request and waited for her to return from surgery. I never imagined that she would never appear.
“The medical staff should have spotted that the lump was inside her lung, rather than outside, in the first place so we could have been better informed about what the surgery entailed. To think they removed part of her lung without her consent is astonishing. It also appears that Louise could have been saved if surgeons had opted to quickly close the source of the bleed. Instead they decided to pointlessly pump litres of blood into Louise for twenty five minutes, but wondered why her blood pressure remained flat?
“The inquest has given us some of the answers were looking for about how and why she died and although it won’t bring her back we just want to know that her death is not in vain and that improvements will be made so that other families don’t have to suffer as we have.”
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