Medical Law Expert Urges Doctors To Learn Lessons From ‘Avoidable Tragedy’
The heartbroken family of a woman who died after suffering massive blood loss during what should have been a routine procedure at Walsall Manor Hospital have urged hospital bosses to say sorry and learn lessons to ensure the same thing cannot happen to another patient.
Expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell revealed today that the family of 77-year-old grandmother- of-four, Patricia Perrin, from Walsall in the West Midlands, have agreed an out-of-court settlement over her death in 2008 but have yet to receive an apology from the Trust.
Medical negligence expert Laura Daly, from the law firm’s Birmingham office, said Mrs Perrin’s tragic death raised a number of serious questions about surgical preparations at the hospital and urged the Trust to prove that steps have been taken since the tragedy to protect future patient welfare, saying the lack of an apology had left the family ‘frustrated and angered’.
Mrs Perrin’s son, Aaron, says doctors told the family that the procedure would take no more than 10 minutes. He recalls accompanying his Mum as far as the treatment room and waiting outside for her in the corridor. After some time, he was advised that there had been some 'complications'. He was taken to see his mother, where he found her lying covered in her own blood and he was told that she was really poorly.
Later that day, he remembers being informed that a biopsy had been undertaken during the procedure and it was this that had caused problems. Shortly after, his mother was taken to intensive care, having lost around a litre of blood. Patricia died from multi organ failure, 18 days later, on 25th April 2008.
Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust has not offered a formal admission of liability for failings in patient care but has now paid the family an undisclosed figure in an out of court settlement.
Ms Daly, who represented the family in the case, said: “This tragic case has left three generations of an extremely close-knit family without their mother and grandmother and raises serious concerns about the level of care Patricia received from the hospital.
“Importantly, an independent medical expert has told us that a failure to implement appropriate treatment in order to treat the bleed and avoid any recurrent haemorrhages amounted to a failure of care.
“This case was never about the money. The family wanted to understand why their mother went in for a routine minor procedure but ended up suffering a massive bleed from which she was never to recover. Sadly, the Trust’s refusal to admit errors, or apologise for Patricia’s death has frustrated and angered the family.
“It also raises fundamental questions as to whether any lessons have been learnt from this avoidable tragedy, which is essential to ensure future patient safety.”
Mrs Perrin, a housewife, mother and grandmother, was widowed and had two daughters Patricia and Angela, a son, Aaron as well as four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
From 2005 onwards, she had suffered from a dry mouth and later difficulty in swallowing certain foods and as a result had undergone a number of tests.
On 7th April 2008, doctors took the decision to perform an endoscopy and a biopsy of a lesion in Mrs Perrin’s stomach. However, it was the family’s case that the doctors mistakenly biopsied a gastric varix (a varicose vein in the stomach) and as such, Mrs Perrin suffered a massive bleed, which required treatment in intensive care. Twelve days later, she suffered a further bleed, where her condition sadly deteriorated.
The decision was taken to remove her from the ventilator and she finally lost her battle to live on 25th April 2008 – 18 days after undergoing the procedure.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Mrs Perrin’s daughter, Patricia Bozkurtaca, said: “When Mum died we were just so shocked and devastated. We were initially told she would be undergoing an endoscopy, which she’d had before so we never thought there would be any problems.
My brother Aaron fully expected her to be back out in a matter of minutes but instead he was told the devastating news that there had been “complications” and that she was critically ill.
“In addition to the problems with the biopsy, we are very angry about the level of care Mum received during her last days in hospital. She was suffering from very painful mouth ulcers which had spread to her lips as a result of the ventilator tube. We desperately tried to get her some medication to help with the pain to make her last days more comfortable, but we were told that there wasn’t a doctor around to administer the necessary drugs.
“It makes me so angry, that she was so poorly cared for. It felt as if no-one could even be bothered to help ease her pain at the end. Although it will not bring Mum back, we feel the very least the Hospital should do, is to apologise for the way she was treated. We believe the hospital has in effect swept Mum’s death under the carpet. We feel it is an insult to her beautiful memory.”
Mrs Bozkurtaca continued: “Over the years, Mum had had her share of health problems, but despite this she was always a very active and energetic lady who enjoyed life to the full. She loved the garden and being out and about amongst people. She really was a truly remarkable and independent woman. She lived for her family, her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“She was taken from us so suddenly, under circumstances which we believe were totally avoidable. I just hope that lessons have been learnt, so that no other family has to go through the heartache that we are still suffering from after losing our mother.”