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A chest pain clinic failed to diagnose a man's heart disease

Family of heart attack man receive settlement

Cardiac chart

24 August 2015

The family of a man who died from a heart attack after a specialist chest pain clinic failed to diagnose his heart disease has received compensation.

The family was represented by specialist medical negligence lawyer, Dr James Piers.

The man, known only as D was a highly respected member of his community who began to suffer new chest pains in summer 2010.

He attended his GP who referred him to the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic at his local hospital.  Following assessment, D was informed that his chest pains were nothing more than musculoskeletal aches and pains caused by arthritis.

However, the doctor who assessed D at the clinic failed to recognise key indicators of heart disease and, as a consequence, the diagnosis was missed.   D left the clinic reassured that he did not have problems with his heart.

When D’s notes and investigations were reviewed by the Consultant at the end of the clinic, the Consultant decided that D should be treated for coronary artery disease and that his GP should be informed.

Neither the GP nor D was informed of this change of diagnosis and D went untreated.

In the absence of treatment, D’s chest pain persisted until he suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Dr James Piers of the clinical negligence team at Leigh Day represented D’s family. He argued that not only had there been an initial failure to diagnose D’s heart disease, but there had also been a failure to communicate the change in diagnosis to D’s family and GP.

If the doctors had informed D and his GP, D would have received the necessary urgent treatment that he required which would have prevented his heart attack and death.

In response to those allegations, the hospital admitted liability in full and the case was settled.

Dr James Piers of the medical negligence team at Leigh Day said:

“Whilst it is of considerable concern that the diagnosis of D’s heart disease was missed, it is perhaps even more disturbing that a simple failure of communication was the difference between life and death for D.  

“I hope that the hospital concerned has put steps in place to ensure that such a simple but catastrophic error cannot happen again.”

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