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Case Study

Negligent GP care results in pneumonia death

Helen Thompson settled a claim on behalf of Mrs D, following negligent care by a Croydon-based GP which led to the death of her husband from pneumonia.

Mr D was a healthy and active man of 73 years of age. On 19 September 2013 he underwent elective surgery under general anaesthetic and was discharged home the same day. Within days Mr D was complaining of feeling unwell with shivering, lethargy and loss of appetite. He contacted his GP surgery and had a telephone consultation with a GP who diagnosed a urinary tract infection despite Mr D not having any urinary symptoms to indicate and infection. The GP did not advise a face-to-face consultation nor urine testing to confirm or rule out a urinary tract infection. The GP prescribed the antibiotic Cefalexin which is not a commonly used antibiotic for such an infection and is advised against in patients over 70 years of age. It was alleged that the GP was also negligent in failing to appreciate that Mr D was at increased risk of a respiratory infection due to the recent general anaesthetic and offering a physical assessment.

The following day Mr D again contacted the GP surgery and was given a telephone consultation with the GP. He reported coughing up blood stained phlegm. The GP suspected a respiratory infection due to the general anaesthetic or a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) but she did not advise a face-to-face consultation to assess Mr D, nor did she change his antibiotics. It was alleged that the antibiotic Cephalexin is not advised for respiratory infections and should have been changed. Also, it was alleged that due to coughing up blood and the possibility of a pulmonary embolism (which is a medical emergency), the GP should have referred Mr D to hospital for investigations.

A couple of days later Mr D again called his GP surgery about his persisting symptoms and was advised to finish the course of Cefalexin before seeing the GP. When Mr D saw the GP on 30 September 2013 he was exhibiting clear symptoms of a deterioration in the respiratory tract infection and the GP referred him to hospital.

Upon admission to hospital Mr D was diagnosed with widespread pneumonia and commenced on oxygen and IV antibiotics. Unfortunately, by this time the pneumonia was too severe and did not respond to treatment. Mr D continued to deteriorate and sadly passed away on 3 October 2013.

Solicitors for the GP strongly defended the claim and went as far as to allege that Mr D had been "contributorily negligent" to his own death by not returning to his GP about his symptoms, an allegation which Mr D's Widow found particularly distressing.

Following exchange of witness and expert evidence in the case Helen was able to negotiate a settlement in the sum of £75,000 for Mrs D.

Contact us

For further information about GP negligence claims and clinical negligence compensation claims, please call Helen Thompson on 020 7861 4852 or email helen.thompson@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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