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Case Study

Inquest into the death of young girl with rare heart condition following surgery at Royal Brompton Hospital

Clinical Negligence Partner Mark Bowman and Robert Seabrook QC of Counsel represented the family of Lana Dzadzaeva who died at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospita, at the inquest into her death, held at Westminster Coroner's Court.

Lana Dzadzaeva, a Russian national, born in March 1994, was born with Holt Oram Syndrome, a rare condition that affects the upper limbs and heart. As a result of the condition Lana suffered from an atrial septal defect (ASD) which meant that blood could flow between the left and right atria of the heart, potentially causing lower than normal oxygen levels in blood that supplies the brain and other vital organs. As a result of her condition Lana was advised to undergo heart surgery in the form of a ASD closure. This is a routine procedure which would prevent the blood from flowing between the atria whereby a small device was inserted into the heart to plug the gap between the two atria.

Surgery was performed at The Royal Brompton Hospital under the care of Dr Anselm Uebing, Consultant Cardiologist. The family elected to have Lana treated on a private basis in the hope that this would lead to a better standard of post-operative care. Post-operatively Lana appeared to make a good recovery and she was discharged home. Unfortunately she collapsed a short while after being discharged home. The emergency services were called and London Ambulance Services attended Lana's home promptly before transferring her to the nearest A&E department, at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Lana was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at hospital.

The inquest into Lana's death took place and evidence was heard from a number of medical practitioners, including Dr Uebing, who confirmed that his usual medical practice following such procedures was to keep the patient in for observations for a period of 24 hours. Lana was observed for such a period, and as all her test results indicated that she had made a good recovery from surgery, she was discharged home. Dr Uebing confirmed he had not previously performed an ASD closure on a patient with Holt Oram Syndrome, but this did not make a difference in terms of the treatment that Lana required.

The coroner, in recording a narrative verdict, concluded that Lana died from a fatal cardiac dysrhythmia one day after undergoing surgery at The Royal Brompton Hospital. The coroner was unable to conclude whether or not the dysrhythmia was caused by irritation due to the placement of the ASD device or due to Lana's Holt Oram Syndrome, which itself carried a risk of dysrhythmia.

Following the inquest, Mark Bowman, the family's solicitor commented

"I am pleased that we were able to represent Marina and the family at the inquest and to ask the key medical practitioners questions with regards Lana's treatment. The family will now consider the evidence that was heard, and the options open to them."

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For further information about medical negligence claims, please call Mark Bowman on 020 7861 4043 or email mark.bowman@fieldfisher.com.

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