Settlement for wife who lost husband following delayed gall bladder operation and sepsis diagnosis at Darent Valley Hospital | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Settlement for wife who lost husband following delayed gall bladder operation and sepsis diagnosis at Darent Valley Hospital

Gabriella Gooday achieved a six-figure settlement on behalf of a client whose husband died following a delay in performing an urgent laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) despite referral, and a subsequent delay in diagnosing sepsis at the same hospital, which led to his death.

The couple had been married for almost 45 years and have two children and two grandchildren, the youngest of whom the deceased sadly never got to meet. Our client, his widow, was financially dependent on the deceased.

In October, the deceased was admitted to Darent Valley Hospital with shortness of breath and a temperature and, following investigation, was diagnosed with cholecystitis and sepsis. He was treated with antibiotics and discharged home, with the advice that he required surgery to remove his gallbladder urgently.

Two months' later, he attended Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup for pre-operative assessment which was uneventful. He was told he would be listed for surgery and to await a date for surgery.

The following April, he became unwell with vomiting. Between December and early April, he had received no communication from either Darent Valley Hospital or Queen Mary's Hospital about a date for surgery to remove his gallbladder.

That April, he went to A&E and was seen by a nurse. His white cell count was raised as was his CRP level. He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and prescribed and administered IV fluids and was later discharged home and told to return if his condition worsened. A nurse also advised him to chase up the date for his gallbladder surgery.

The following day, he remained unwell with nausea and lethargy, but he and his wife accepted the gastroenteritis diagnosis the previous day. However, he continued to deteriorate and returned to A&E the next day. Further blood tests and observations showed he continued to have a raised white cell count and CRP level.

A junior doctor then gave a working diagnosis of cholangitis. This doctor discussed the man's condition with a specialist registrar, who was in theatre at the time, and a decision was made to discharge him with a prescription for oral antibiotics. The specialist registrar did not attend nor examine him before his discharge.

On the morning of 13 April, the deceased's condition deteriorated and he sadly suffered cardiac arrest at home despite resuscitation attempts.

Once instructed, Gabriella wrote to the hospital Trust, which made an early admission of liability and confirmed it accepted that there were failings in the care provided on two occasions in April that led to his death. The delay in performing the laparoscopic cholecystectomy was also accepted as a breach of duty by the Trust.

To assist in quantifying the claim, Gabriella instructed a General Physician to comment upon the deceased's life expectancy but for the negligence, which was difficult to estimate due to the deceased's comorbidities.

Following negotiations, Gabriella was able to secure a six-figure settlement, which was significantly higher than the initial derisory offer made by the Trust.

Following settlement, our client said: “Now the case has been completed, I hope it can give my family and I some closure to what has been a very sad time. You can never get over a loss, especially knowing that someone should still be here. I did not want my husband to be a number, I wanted them to know what hurt and pain this has caused. Gabriella and her team were wonderful and compassionate throughout the process and kept me updated every step of the way. I now hope my husband can rest in peace."

Contact us

For further information about delayed diagnosis claims, please call Gabriella Gooday on 0330 460 6758 or email


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

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