James was 45 and had a job in the London city as an investment banker, but was also very active socially, enjoying golf, diving, skiing and other hobbies in his spare time.
In 2001, he underwent a coronary angiogram as he was experiencing non-specific symptoms such as sweating and nausea.
James returned to see his GP in October 2005, again with non-specific symptoms. His GP took an ECG which was noted as being grossly abnormal.
In view of James’ stressful lifestyle, his GP believed that James may be suffering from acute ischaemia, where the heart receives inadequate oxygen and which can result in a heart attack.
The GP called James’ cardiologist, and between them they agreed immediate management with medication, and the cardiologist recommended another angiogram in due course.
The cardiologist was expecting to see James in an out-patient clinic so that he could assess James and recommend further investigations, so was surprised to find James waiting for an angiogram when he attended the hospital a few days later to carry out his routine angiogram list.
It is not clear how James had come to be on that list, or whether the cardiologist had a copy of the ECG that the GP had taken.
Nevertheless, after a very brief history and examination, the cardiologist proceeded to carry out an angiogram, having explained to James that there was a very small risk of stroke associated with the procedure.
Unfortunately, shortly after the angiogram, which was normal, James suffered a major stroke. Although his condition improved a little as the weeks went by, he is left with significant weakness on the left side of his body and requires the use of a walking stick.
Medical experts believe that he is likely to require a wheelchair by the age of 60. His memory and concentration are poor, and he often slurs his speech, particularly when he is tired.
James also suffers with depression following the stroke, because he was unable to return to any form of employment and is unable to pursue any of his previous hobbies.
The expert evidence, which we obtained from the cardiologist, was that the ECG did not show acute ischaemia, but a heart condition, which could and should have been diagnosed by an echocardiogram, a non-invasive procedure with no risk of a stroke.
If the cardiologist had correctly identified the problem from the ECG, he would not have carried out an angiogram, particularly given that James had had an angiogram 4 years previously which was normal, and he would therefore not have suffered a stroke.
This was an extremely challenging claim, not only because of the detailed expert evidence, but because James had started a new business venture a few years before the angiogram and it was uncertain how this would develop.
Although he had always enjoyed high earnings, we had to establish that either his business would have been a success or that he would have returned to a similar type of employment in the city, during the recession, had the angiogram not been undertaken.
We successfully settled the claim for £2 million shortly before trial. James was delighted with the outcome which gave him a significant degree of financial security for the future.
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