The wife of a male nurse who was sent home with painkillers and died in bed when his aorta ruptured said doctors at Royal Surrey County Hospital simply refused to listen to what he was telling them.
Mrs Nevins found her husband dead in their bed in the early evening of April 2012 after a consultant at the hospital discharged 47-year-old Mr Nevins without a diagnosis, even though he was obviously in extreme pain.
Mrs Nevins was represented by Iona Meeres-Young of Fieldfisher and a settlement was approved at the High Court.
Mr Nevins had 20 years nursing experience, including detailed cardiac knowledge learned over the course of his career, he suffered from hypertension and was a smoker.
Two days before he died, he was visiting a friend locally when he experienced a sudden pain in his chest and shoulder blades, which radiated down his back into his buttocks. When he got home, he looked so ill that his wife immediately called an ambulance. Recognising his symptoms, Mr Nevins told her to tell the operator he was suffering symptoms of a triple A.
A ‘triple A’ is medical shorthand for abdominal aortic aneurysm. Mrs Nevins then called the ambulance a second time to hurry them when her husband admitted his peripheries had gone cold.
In the ambulance, Mr Nevins's blood pressure wildly varied between his arms, a classic symptom of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. Mrs Nevins says that after he arrived at the hospital, her husband repeatedly told doctors he believed his symptoms were cardiovascular and specifically requested an echocardiogram. His request was ignored. They also did not review the paramedic’s note and therefore did not appreciate that there had been a difference in Richard’s blood pressure between his left and right arms. They did not repeat this simple test in order to see whether it could be replicated.
Despite all the obvious symptoms, the consultant, Mr Stebbing, said he could be sent home with pain relief and reviewed two weeks later. Mr Stebbing did not himself examine Mr Nevins.
Still in severe pain, Mr Nevins went to bed immediately when he got home. Mrs Nevins and their teenage children found him dead in bed at approximately 17.30 hours. They attempted to resuscitate him by performing CPR. As one would expect they were severely traumatised by these events.
Iona Meeres-Young of Fieldfisher said:
"Had a diagnosis of dissecting aortic aneurysm been reached whilst Mr Nevins was at the hospital then he would have undergone lifesaving surgery. I am pleased that this case has brought Mrs Nevins and her children some financial security."
Emma Nevins said:
"My association with Fieldfisher has achieved the justice and outcome my solicitor, Iona Meeres-Young and I have both fought for, for nearly four years. My dedicated solicitor really engaged with me and my case from the outset, showing sensitivity, care, concern and a genuine desire to gain justice for my family following our tragic set of circumstances. She demonstrated an extremely good understanding of the medical aspects of this case, securing robust, knowledgeable and current experts who supported my case consistently. I will always be grateful that not only has justice prevailed, but along with that, a real level of security, which whilst it cannot bring our loved one back, goes some way to providing the level of support and security that my children deserve. It's time to move on, but I could not have continued with the case had it not been for the strong relationship and support received from Iona.
Of the Trust, Emma Nevins said:
"The Trust treated my children and I much as they did my husband whilst he was in their care, unsympathetically and with disregard for our pain and suffering. They could have brought an end to this for us much sooner, but opted to continue to pursue this breach of duty to the final hour, putting us through a further ordeal. We are all pleased that we can now put this chapter behind us and whilst nothing can ever compensate for or bring back a wonderful husband and father, we have some closure."
This case was reported in the Evening Standard and can be read here
Iona is a partner in the Clinical and Medical Negligence team at Fieldfisher. She is on the specialist Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel, a member of AvMA and is an accredited expert in acting for the victims of medical accidents.
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