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Compensation. Was her death preventable?

(6 Posts)
goingslowlymad Wed 09-Jul-08 20:22:56

I am very much against compensation and suing for the sake of it. However I feel I should be persuing something/someone after my mother's death.

Nearly two years ago my mum, aged 47, had a stiff shoulder/arm for a week or so. She thought she had pulled a muscle while driving as her car didn't have power steering.

One night it got so bad that she phoned the out of hours GP (it was around midnight) who examined her and told her it was indeed a pulled muscle and gave her some heavy duty painkillers and sent her home.

The dr asked my mum whether she had any tingling in her fingers/hands and she confirmed she did. In addition to this my mum was on medication for high blood pressure, was around 4 stone overweight and a heavy (20+ per day) smoker. To the best of my dad's knowledge, who went with her to the waiting room but not into the appointment, no medical history was taken by the dr.

The following morning my mum was still in pain but had to go into work for an hour as one of her staff called in sick. That morning she also had a hospital clinic appointment unrelated to her shoulder pain.

That afternoon, around 12 hours after she saw the emergency GP she died in my dad's arms after suffering a massive heart attack.

My problems are this: 1) a quick google search on heart disease in women gave shoulder pain as a primary symptom 2) she was in her forties, a common age for women to present with heart disease 3) the pain was severe enough for her contact a GP out of hours 4) she was a heavy smoker 5) she was obese 6) she was on medication for high blood pressure.

Surely it is not outside the realms of possibility for a dr to consider a heart problem with the above presentation of symptoms?

There is every chance that even if the dr had spotted what was really wrong that she may have died anyway and I accept that. At the moment I feel my mum's life was lost due to one dr's ineptitude and keen-ness to get back to bed.

From an outsider's point of view, am I being unreasonable? Am I expecting too much? Would a simple blood test and blood pressure check have revealed the real cause of my mum's pain? Is it worth persuing to hopefully avoid someone else losing a parent/wife/grandmother so unecessarily?

nancy75 Wed 09-Jul-08 20:25:55

i would be livid, i would want to sue, like you more to stop it happening again than for the money, however it is notoriously difficult to sue the nhs and could cost you everything you have and some years of heartache, you need to really consider this carefully and get a good solicitor if you decide to go ahead

TequilaMockinBird Wed 09-Jul-08 20:30:27

So sorry to hear about your mum sad

To be honest, I did think about this after my Dad died 5 years ago.

He went to the doctor with a bad cough, chest pains, very lethargic etc. He was diagnosed with having a chest infection and given antibiotics.

About 6 weeks later it still hadnt gone away and so he returned to the doctors, to be given another course of antibiotics.

Another 6 weeks or so passed and Dad lost his voice, still had the same symptoms and after much persuasion from us he went back to the doctors. Doctor sent him for a chest xray to the hospital and a tumour was found sad. The tumour was in his lung but was so big it was pressing on his voice box and so he couldnt speak.

5 days later he died sad

I'm the same in that I know if it had been detected at the first doctors appointment, it would probably have been too far advanced for them to treat it. However we would have at least had a few months to 'prepare' for the inevitable.

I never did pursue this but did think about it often.

Wishing you luck in whatever you decide to do and sending hugs xx

tissy Wed 09-Jul-08 20:32:09

hmm, not sure, tbh

blood pressure would not necessarily have been any different

blood test might have shown the cause, but these tests are usually done in hospital, alongside ecg, I'm not sure if GPs are able to request these, esp in middle of night. IIRC they aren't even done outside daylight hours in hospital.

tingling in hands can be a pointer to trapped nerve pain, so GP may have reasonably supposed that this was the diagnosis

otoh, high bp, obesity, heavy smoker, maybe it should have been on the radar

did she have any previous symptoms of heart problems? Chest pain/ shortness of breath, palpitations?

edam Wed 09-Jul-08 20:35:03

I suspect you may well have a case but as Nancy says, it is not easy to sue. It takes years and will be emotionally draining. So before you talk to any solicitors, do consider whether you can bear the constant reminder of your mother's last days, and the hassle.

stickybun Wed 09-Jul-08 23:19:51

Dear GSM - Sorry to hear about your Mum. Just a thought - do you feel that you know what you want the outcome of this to be? Sometimes it can be helpful to 'work backwards' if you know what I mean. E.g. Do you want to see an individual Dr held to account for their actions or do you think that it is more of a general management issue that needs flagging up within your local NHS? That might help you decide whether to go down some kind of internal NHS/BMA procedure or whether it's a legal matter. Is it an individual GP matter or a procedural one e.g. lack of guidelines etc. within your local NHS? Good luck whatever you decide to do it's really hard to lose a loved parent unexpectedly.

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