Matthew had suffered a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in 2009 for which he was prescribed warfarin. Having made a full recovery, Matthew started to suffer with problems in his right ankle. He was advised to undergo fusion surgery, which was undertaken at Frimley Park Hospital on 29 May 2012. Surgery lasted over two and a half hours and the post-operative instructions, which were not communicated to Matthew or his family, made it clear that Matthew was to be prescribed with Enoxaparin, a form of anti-coagulant, to be taken every day until follow up in two weeks' time. In spite of this instruction being clearly written in Matthew's medical records, Matthew was discharged without any such medication.
Matthew was seen for a post-operative review on 13 June 2012 by the same surgeon that had prescribed Enoxaparin two weeks earlier. At this time Matthew was still suffering from substantially reduced mobility. At no point did the surgeon enquire as to whether Matthew had been given the recommended medication, nor did he prescribe such medication at this time.
A further review took place on 11 July 2012 at which time Matthew was still reliant on crutches for short distances and a wheelchair for longer distances. Matthew was seen by a different doctor who again failed to enquire as to his medication history or to provide any further medication for Matthew.
On 16 August 2012 Matthew was attending his own father's funeral. He became short of breath and was admitted by ambulance to Frimley Park Hospital where he arrived at 13:15. He was pronounced dead under an hour later. The post mortem revealed a thrombus and clot in the right common iliac vein and the cause of death was recorded as a pulmonary embolism due to leg vein thrombosis due to surgery of the ankle.
The family had not instructed Mark Bowman at the time of the inquest into Matthew's death, which took place on 12 February 2013. During the inquest the surgeon admitted that he knew Matthew was at high risk of a thrombotic event due to his previous DVT and admitted his instructions had not been carried out. The coroner concluded that it was not clear that the failure to provide appropriate medication caused Matthew's death, but it quite possibly might have done.
Upon instruction, Mark obtained Matthew's medical records and reports from experts in orthopaedic surgery, vascular surgery and haematology. It was alleged on behalf of Matthew's family that the care provided to him was negligent in that he was at high risk of suffering complications following surgery due to his age, his previous DVT, the length of surgery, the site of surgery and the fact that his mobility would be severely reduced post-operatively. As a result suitable medication should have been prescribed, as was in fact the surgeon's intention. Thereafter, at review on 13 June and 11 July, a full history should have been taken which would have revealed that no medication had been prescribed, and the error rectified at that time. It was alleged that with suitable care the subsequent fatal pulmonary embolism would have been avoided.
The NHS Litigation Authority, acting on behalf of Frimley Park Hospital, admitted liability in June 2015. A forensic accountancy report was subsequently obtained in order to assess the value of the claim that was being brought by Matthew's family. Following negotiations with the Solicitors for Frimley Park Hospital, the family accepted the sum of £425,000 which will compensate them for their dependency on the income that Matthew would have earned had his life not been brought to a premature end as a result of the negligent treatment provided at Frimley Park Hospital.
At the end of the case, Matthew's family said
“Following Matthew’s inquest we wanted to understand whether the errors made by the hospital had contributed to his death and if so ensure future patients were not at risk due to these mistakes.
We were very unsure how to proceed with a claim and were recommended Fieldfisher by a friend. In our first meeting with Mark he was very empathetic of our situation and explained the process with clarity and professionalism. Since that first meeting he and his team have worked tirelessly on the case and kept us informed at every stage.
We would like to thank Mark and his team for their efforts over the past few years and for making the process as painless as is possible. Although we can’t have Matthew back we now feel he has the justice he deserves and we finally now have closure.”
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