£60,000 recovered for husband’s death

Our client, a 71 year old woman from Ramsgate, Kent, was widowed as a result of failings during the care of her husband (“H”) by the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (“EKH”).

H had been under the care of the Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (“MTW”) as a result of stomach cancer in 2012, which had been surgically removed, and from which he was making a good recovery.

H was admitted to EKH in July 2013 with abdominal pains, underwent an exploratory laparotomy, and was found to have a necrotic gallbladder. Following his discharge home he remained unwell and was admitted back into EKH on 16th August 2013.

Whilst in hospital, H developed pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism.

H was transferred to MTW on 23rd August 2013, where his condition was not managed as it should have been – in particular there was a delay in draining a large right tension pneumothorax on 25th August 2013.

H died on the evening of 25th August 2013, with the death certificate confirming the cause of death to be pneumonia and pulmonary embolism.

Initial expert evidence indicated that the failure by MTW on 25th August was negligent and that if H had been treated appropriately he would have survived. A letter of claim was submitted to MTW. They admitted breach of duty but denied that H would have survived if he had received appropriate treatment in any event, and they made an offer of £10,000 to settle the claim.

Further expert evidence was then obtained which confirmed that there had been a delay in diagnosing and treating both the pneumonia and the pulmonary embolism while H was at EKH, which had allowed them to progress and H’s condition to deteriorate, such that he was not strong enough to survive the later negligence at MTW. However, crucially, this further evidence confirmed that if H had been treated appropriately at EKH he would have survived.

A letter of claim was therefore submitted to EKH. As they delayed in responding, it was necessary to issue Court proceedings against EKH.

The offer of £10,000 from MTW was accepted on terms whereby the claim against them be brought to a close and the claim against EKH be open to proceed.

Following the service of Court proceedings upon EKH, they made a full admission of breach of duty and causation – confirming that H would have survived but for the negligent treatment he received.

Negotiations then took place, resulting in a settlement of £50,000 against EKH.

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of this case, said “this was an unusual case, involving negligence on the part of two Trusts in the space of a few days. As only one Trust’s negligence was causative of H’s death, yet both had a monetary value, it created the unusual situation of receiving compensation from two Trusts separately.”