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Family of 32-year old man who died as a result of medical negligence awarded substantial compensation

Mr Y died following failure by hospital to diagnose endocarditis

3 December 2014

The family of a 32-year-old man who died as a result of medical malpractice have been awarded a six figure sum.
The man known only as Mr Y was fit and healthy and rarely needed to visit his GP.
On 22 September he went to see his doctor having suffered headaches, shivering, cough, aching joints and night sweats over four weeks. He was prescribed antibiotics, and further investigations were carried out.
Mr Y saw various GPs on 21 occasions between September and February with the same but worsening symptoms. During that period he was given ten courses of antibiotics.
On one occasion his GP suspected that he might have endocarditis, and arranged for an echocardiogram to be undertaken at the hospital.
This was performed on 2 December. Unfortunately, it was misreported as being normal when it was not.
Mr Y continued seeing his GPs in severe pain, difficulty breathing, severe night sweats and general malaise. He continued with his visits to the GP and was unable to work, and  had difficulty walking.
The night sweats continued, which were drenching the bed clothes, and Mr Y began to notice that his urine was very dark.
He developed chest pain on 8 February, and went to the walk in clinic and was given medication for gastric problems.
He also visited his GP later that day who noted the night sweats, shaking and chest pains. A referral was made to a specialist in kidney problems.  
Mr Y returned to his GP on 12 February with central chest pain, and the GP noted the medication for heartburn wasn’t helping so referred him to a gastroenterologist.
Later that day his wife telephoned the surgery and informed the GP that the chest pain was worse. She was advised to take her husband to A&E.
On arrival to hospital Mr Y was admitted immediately where a number of investigations were performed, and a diagnosis of aortic valve endocarditis was made.
He was commenced on intravenous antibiotics, and underwent heart surgery on 15 February. He was found to have severe destruction of the heart valves secondary to  bacterial  endocarditis. Emergency surgery was carried out that day. The infection seemed to be cleared by the operation.
Post surgery Mr Y developed an abscess at the site of the operation and his health deteriorated. A heart transplant was considered, but the infection couldn’t be brought under control, so further repair surgery was carried out on the 20 March 2010 but was unsuccessful, and Mr Y died in theatre.
A full admission of liability was made by the hospital who acknowledged that the echocardiogram had been negligently reported, and that had the endocarditis been diagnosed Mr Y would have been appropriately treated and lived.
Olive Lewin from the medical negligence team at Leigh Day, who acted on behalf of Mrs Y and their children, said:
“This is one of the worst cases of undiagnosed endocarditis I have seen, with so many chances to treat this deadly infection missed.”

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