Medical Negligence Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Instructed To Investigate Her Care
The family of a woman who died after she was discharged from hospital after weeks of suffering painful headaches have spoken out following an inquest into her death.
Julie Holden, from Kniveton, in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, died on 5 August, 2014, after suffering a ruptured aneurysm which caused a massive haemorrhage (bleed) in her brain.
An inquest into her death concluded today at Derby Coroner’s Court where HM Coroner Ms Rachel Syed recorded a narrative conclusion, stating that she was concerned that the consultant neurologist’s assessment of Julie contained basic omissions and he failed to make an accurate record. Ms Syed indicated that she would write to Royal Derby Hospital to ask them to remind its clinicians about the importance of accurate record keeping.
Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust prepared a Serious Untoward Incident Report in 2015 which highlighted that because some of Julie’s symptoms were unusual, there could have been a consideration that Julie was suffering from something more serious than a migraine, including that she had a small bleed on the brain.
Julie’s partner Simon Meredith instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his concerns regarding the care and treatment Julie received at Royal Derby Hospital.
Expert OpinionJulie’s family have been left completely heartbroken after losing her so suddenly and understandably they had many questions as to why her condition was not investigated and diagnosed sooner. They have patiently waited whilst the investigations into Julie’s death were undertaken.
“The family believes it is important that lessons are learned from Julie’s death, both in relation to the way in which headache symptoms are assessed and also in terms of investigating serious incidents quickly and thoroughly. We are pleased that the Coroner intends to raise her concerns with the Trust in order to improve practice in the future.” Helen Royles-Jones - Solicitor Advocate
Julie, a mother-of-three, had a history of migraines and high blood pressure and in July 2014 she had been suffering from a two week headache and continuous pain above her left eye. She visited her GP who prescribed her steroids, which had helped her symptoms during a previous similar episode.
The 48-year-old’s pain did not subside and after several visits to her GP over a few weeks her partner Simon took her to A&E at the Royal Derby Hospital where she was admitted overnight for tests. She was told that she would need a CT scan and a lumbar puncture to exclude a more serious cause for her symptoms, and she was admitted overnight so that the tests could be carried out.
The next morning on 14 July, when Simon returned to the hospital, Julie said that she had not had a CT scan or any other investigations and she had been told by a neurologist that she was just suffering from a migraine and could be discharged, despite the family’s concerns about the diagnosis.
Her condition remained the same whilst at home. On the morning of 5 August, Simon woke up to find Julie unconscious next to him in bed. He immediately rang for an ambulance and started to resuscitate her. She was rushed to hospital and a scan revealed she had suffered a bleed on the brain due to ruptured aneurysm. She didn’t regain consciousness sadly died that afternoon.
After the hearing, Simon said: “My family and I have been left devastated since losing Julie – it was so unexpected and it has been difficult especially for the children to come to terms with. Throughout the past three years, it has been incredibly frustrating that I have had no answers to the many questions I have as to why medical staff did not recognise her symptoms or send her for the correct tests to determine her diagnosis.
“From the weeks following Julie’s death up until now, the only contact I received from the hospital was in the form of a request for my agreement that they did not need to submit the Serious Untoward Incident Report to the Coroner. The hospital’s investigation was carried out without any input from the family, who could have provided information about what happened, and the family were left with the impression that the hospital didn’t intend to involve them in the process. The Report, together with three independent expert reports, were not provided until 15 months after her death and this meant that the Inquest, which had originally been scheduled to go ahead in November 2015, had to be postponed until now.
“I urge the NHS to adopt a more open, honest and objective approach in dealing with the families of patients who have died. My family has been through a traumatic ordeal and all we have asked for is answers to help us understand what went wrong, what lessons the Trust had learned and what procedures have been put in place to try and avoid something similar happening again.
“Julie was generally a fit and healthy woman, her migraines had always been controlled with pain medication. Her symptoms in her final months were different compared with her usual migraines, the pain was significantly worse and the headache had lasted for a prolonged period of time. The doctors did not take her severe and unusual symptoms into account and simply just dismissed them as a migraine which would ease in time. We are now left wondering whether Julie could have been saved if her condition had been diagnosed sooner.
“We would like to thank the Coroner for carrying out a thorough investigation into the circumstances leading up to Julie’s death. I now hope with the help of our legal team at Irwin Mitchell that we will be able to obtain the reassurance that lessons have been learned by the medical staff involved in Julie’s care so this cannot happen to any other families, and that the NHS’s procedures for investigating incidents is changed.”
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