Cynthia, then aged 76, was admitted to the accident and emergency department at Walsgrave Hospital on 18 August 1998 complaining of constipation.
It was noted that Cynthia had a history of heart disease and arthritis. When she was admitted there was no abdominal x-ray carried out. Her full blood count was not checked, she was not given any diagnosis and patient management plan wasn't devised.
Over the next few days Cynthia's condition deteriorated. She complained of abdominal pain, constipation and overflow diarrhoea and perrectal bleeding.
Blood tests were finally performed on 20 and 21 August, which demonstrated a raised white cell count with abnormalities of liver and renal function.
Sadly, no further investigations were undertaken and no treatment provided.
On 22 August 1998, Cynthia suffered a cardiac arrest and despite efforts to resuscitate her she was certified dead at 10.15am. A post mortem revealed the cause of death to be ischaemic colitis due to a sigmoid volvulus. This is an inflammation and injury of the large intestine resulting from inadequate blood supply that is caused by constipation.
An investigation via the NHS Complaints Procedure revealed serious deficiencies in care.
We were instructed to pursue an accident and emergency negligence claim on behalf of Cynthia's extended family. There was no dependency claim. The main costs had been funeral and travel expenses.
Following receipt of the detailed letter of claim the defendant indicated that a willingness to settle. Cynthia's family accepted compensation of £16,000.
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