Case Studies: Healthcare

Widow recovers substantial damages against Southern Health & Social Care Trust

The Widow of a 57-year-old businessman who died in November 2016 has recovered substantial damages against the Southern Health & Social Care Trust in respect of the losses that she incurred as a consequence of the death of her husband.  Our Client brought an action alleging negligence on the part of the Southern Health & Social Care Trust in her husband’s care, resulting in his death.


The Deceased had attended at the Emergency Department of the Craigavon Area Hospital with a clear presentation of coronary angina.  The diagnosis evaded the ‘Locum’ Consultant, Dr Asaduzzaman, who treated the Deceased. The following day the Deceased was diagnosed with chest pain, secondary to a hiatus hernia, and discharged without provision for follow-up or review.


The Deceased remained concerned in respect of his symptoms and attended his General Practitioner who was sufficiently concerned to refer him to the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic.  Notwithstanding a stated target for review, being 2 weeks, further referral became necessary on 22 September 2016 and ultimately he was offered a review on 24 November 2016.  He died whilst waiting for his treatment.


The Widow of the Deceased instructed Patrick Mullarkey of O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors (Healthcare) LLP to act on her behalf in association with the Inquest.  The Inquest found that the Deceased had presented with a classic angina at the time he attended Craigavon Area Hospital.  This diagnosis was missed by the Locum Consultant who discharged the Deceased without proper follow-up or review.  The Coroner found the Locum Consultant was not sufficiently qualified to perform the role of Locum Consultant in Acute Medicine at that time.  He did not pay sufficient regard to the notes and records pertaining to the Deceased, lacked the requisite training and experience and made an incorrect diagnosis which led to no follow-up investigation.  The incorrect diagnosis falsely reassured the Deceased and his family.  Expert evidence at Inquest advised that had the Deceased been properly diagnosed he would have been treated and he would have avoided his death.  Likewise, if he had been followed up, he would have come to treatment within a couple of weeks and would have avoided his death.  Importantly, the Coroner found that Article 2 of the European Convention in Human Rights, protecting the Deceased’s right to life, was engaged.


Subsequent to the Inquest we issued civil proceedings on behalf of the Widow of the Deceased.  She proceeded in relation to the loss sustained by the Estate and her own personal loss, in the form of a “nervous shock” injury, occasioned by reason of the sudden and unexpected death of her husband.  Ultimately liability in relation to negligence was admitted and negotiations between the parties led to the agreement of substantial damages and costs.

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