Richard's wife drove him to A&E at Barnet General Hospital. Bloods, an X-ray and an ECG were performed, all of which were normal. A diagnosis was made of pleuritis (caused by inflammation of the linings around the lungs). Richard was advised to take anti-inflammatory medication and discharged. The following day, he presented to his GP, having suffered continuing pain overnight. He was advised to take pain killers.
Three days later, Richard went back to his GP. Despite his worsening condition, no further investigations were performed. By mid-afternoon, he was in so much pain that his wife called an ambulance. Richard suffered a heart attack and was rushed for emergency surgery. He had three further cardiac arrests during the operation and required the insertion of four stents. A temporary external pacemaker was also fitted. Following the operation, he was placed into a medically-induced coma. He was later told that no evidence of pleuritis had been found. The intense pain had in fact been caused by a blocked artery.
Following discharge from hospital, Richard was very weak. He required a great deal of physical and emotional support and could not wash or dress himself for nearly two months. He and his family moved in temporarily with his parents.
Some months later, Richard was told by a cardiologist that he was 'lucky to be alive'. He was also advised that if he had been correctly diagnosed when he first went to A&E, he would have had stents inserted into the blocked artery and would not have suffered a heart attack. This was hard for the family to hear as they had suspected a heart problem from the outset. Richard's wife said "it is difficult to comprehend that I almost lost my husband and our children nearly lost their father because of this wrongful diagnosis".
These events have significantly impacted Richard's life and he now has a very much reduced life expectancy. He was unable to return to work as a plasterer for two years (and, even then, only part time). He tires easily, experiencing pain and breathlessness. He is constantly anxious about his heart and has developed PTSD and depression.
Jonathan Zimmern and Jamie Green assisted Richard to investigate a claim against both his GP and the Trust responsible for hospital. An early admission was made by the Trust and Jonathan and Jamie went about valuing Richard's claim. Provision was made for the significant time and effort expended by the family in caring for Richard and his children (whom Richard would usually looked after). A claim was also made for Richard's loss of earnings. This was difficult to assess due to the precarious nature of his industry, but nevertheless Richard secured an overall settlement of £565,000.
At the conclusion of the case, Richard's wife wrote to Jonathan saying "we would also like to thank yourself and Jamie for all your hard work on Richard's case, it's been very much appreciated".
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