Mum Died Days After Being Sent Home From Hospital
The family of a pensioner who died following concerns she had a perforated gallbladder have instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care.
Margaret Legg was admitted to Dorset County Hospital on 29 February, 2016, a week after falling ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and a swollen stomach. She had suffered two falls at home just prior to her admission. The 74-year-old’s GP suggested in her medical notes that she undergo a CT scan to investigate the cause of the mass felt in her stomach and one possibility was gall bladder perforation. Hospital staff performed an X-ray.
The mum-of-two of Wareham, Dorset, was subsequently diagnosed with gastroenteritis. She was to be discharged less than 48 hours after admission, but was re-assessed and deemed not fit for discharged and so she was transferred to a ward for the elderly. She remained on this ward until she was discharged a couple of weeks later on 14 March.
However, within 36 hours of being home Margaret became very unwell and her GP referred her back to hospital. A CT scan on admission confirmed she had a perforated gall bladder. She was also found to have sepsis and peritonitis. She underwent emergency surgery the following day on 19 March but did not survive the operation and sadly died.
Following her death, Margaret’s family instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care she received from Dorset County Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and to obtain full answers as to if more could have been done to help her.
Expert Opinion“Margaret’s family have been left devastated by her death and feel that more should have been done on both her first and second admission to help diagnose her condition and she would have received the care she required at the earliest opportunity.
“During a meeting with the family the Hospital Trust acknowledged that Margaret should have had a scan during her first admission to ensure her diagnosis was correct.
“We are now investigating these concerns to fully establish if earlier intervention could have prevented Margaret’s death.” Elise Burvill - Associate Solicitor
Margaret, a retired secretary sadly lost her husband in 1985. He suffered severe brain damage as a result of a serious car crash in 1981 and subsequently spent 15 months in hospital but when they could do no more for him, he returned home and she cared for him 24/7 until he died aged just 43. They married in 1960. The couple had two children, Richard and Jacquie. Margaret also had three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren
Margaret started to feel unwell on 22 February, 2016, and across the following week her condition deteriorated, with her stomach swelling up.
Her son Richard recalled: “Mum was in an absolutely awful state. She looked like she had aged 10 years in a week. I barely recognised my own mother; she was very frail, had lost a considerable amount of weight and could hardly speak to me. Only a week before this she was fully active walking three dogs a couple of miles a day.
“We called the GP, who said Mum should be in hospital. He called an ambulance and told us a note had been passed to the doctors at hospital suggesting a CT scan be carried out because he was concerned she may have a perforated gall bladder.
“After she was admitted into hospital, I queried why she was sent for an X-ray and not a scan, but were reassured that it was the right thing to do.”
He added: “We didn’t think Mum was well enough to be sent home but she was discharged. It was very difficult as she felt bad for taking up a bed at hospital for what she had been told was just a tummy bug, nothing more.
“During the surgery it was found that the perforation had taken its toll and damaged her organs. It was completely heart-breaking to be told she had not survived.”
Following Margaret’s death, the NHS Trust undertook an investigation into her care, with representatives from the organisation meeting the family. The Trust admitted that sometimes it gets the care wrong.
Jacquie said: “It has been very hard trying to come to terms with Mum’s death. We cannot thank the surgical team enough as they tried to save Mum but due to the length of time the gall bladder had been perforated, there was irreparable damage to her bowel and other organs.
“We would urge doctors to ensure that they explore all avenues and do everything they can to diagnose a patient’s condition. It is also imperative to listen to the family as they know the patient. We don’t want this to happen to another family.”