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Case Study

Father died following sub-standard care from East of England Ambulance paramedics

Arti Shah acted for the family of Delroy, an electrical and gas installation engineer, who died following substandard treatment received from paramedics employed by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

Delroy fainted at work and was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital by ambulance, reporting chest pain. Following investigations, he was discharged home later that night, with advice to take Gaviscon.

Once home, Delroy remained very unwell and, a few hours later, was struggling to breathe. His family called for an ambulance in the early hours of the morning. A First Response Paramedic arrived initially and took Delroy's blood pressure and a brief history.

Shortly after, an ambulance with two further paramedics arrived. An ECG was performed, but three paramedics failed to recognise it as abnormal. They requested a copy of the discharge summary from Delroy's attendance at hospital and, seeing the diagnosis of gastritis, dismissed the family's concerns. They advised his son to pick up some Gaviscon for Delroy and attend his GP the next day. The family were actively discouraged from attending A&E, being told they would spend a lot of time waiting around.

Delroy's condition remained poor at home. By the early evening, Delroy's daughter called for an ambulance again as he had become non-responsive and cold to touch. She began CPR whilst waiting for the paramedics to arrive. They took over on arrival and an air ambulance was also called. The paramedics performed CPR for approximately 40 minutes, but Delroy sadly passed away from a cardiac arrest.

A post mortem was performed and the pathologist summarised the cause of death as haemopericardium due to a ruptured aortic dissection.

The East of England Ambulance Service performed an internal investigation which identified several failings in care. It accepted the paramedics should have performed closer examination of the ECG, that there should have been a higher index of suspicion in a chest pain case, and that they should not have been swayed by a previous clinical diagnosis. The report was amended several times after inaccuracies in the accounts provided were highlighted by the family, adding to their distress.

Arti was instructed shortly after Delroy's death. She served a Letter of Claim and a few months later received an initial Response, admitting a failure to fully consider the changes on the ECG performed in the early hours of the morning and that faced with an abnormal ECG and a patient with a high pain score, the correct management would have been to take Delroy to hospital.

It also accepted that Delroy had not been given all the information about his potential condition and prognosis to allow him to make a fully informed decision as to whether or not he wanted to be transported to hospital.

The Trust did not admit causation until several months later. It eventually accepted that if Delroy had been provided with all of the information to enable him to make an informed decision as to whether he wanted to be admitted to hospital, he would have done so. On the balance of probabilities, the cardiac arrest would have been avoided and he would not have passed away.

Arti proceeded to obtain expert evidence to quantify the claim. Quantum investigations were complicated by the fact that Delroy held several jobs, and was in the near future, going to become a director in his son's business. 

A schedule of loss and expert evidence were served on the Defendant, with an offer to settle. No response was received from the Defendant for eight months, but they eventually agreed to attend a Round Table Meeting. Although the case did not settle on the day, negotiations ensued and the case settled for a six figure sum shortly after.

At the end of the case, Delroy's wife said:

"The [redacted] family wish to extend our extreme gratitude to Fieldfisher Solicitors and, in particular, to Arti Shah, Senior Associate, for the care, empathy and professionalism with which they executed our case to an effective conclusion.

"At the beginning, and with no previous experience in these matters, we felt intimidated by what lay ahead. We were also fraught with grief and struggled to convey our case of negligence against a professional body. Arti Shah listened carefully, was patient and understand through the several meetings it took to set out all the facts. Her assessment was that our case was strong and, at all times, she laid out the options so that we could understand the issues, and gave us the guidance we needed to make our decisions.

"Our case has taken four years, and through it all, we have felt cared for, and supported. Ms Shah and the Barrister helped us to prepare for the trauma of court proceedings and the challenge we would face when the case was heard. They left no issue unresolved and pursued our case with sensitivity, diligence and attention to detail.

"We are very grateful for the support we have received and would have no hesitation in recommending Fieldfisher in the future."

Contact us

For further information about medical negligence claims, please call Arti Shah on 0207 861 4139 or email arti.shah@fieldfisher.com.

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