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Family get compensation for heart infection death

Liability was admitted by a hospital in a case of endocarditis that was badly treated and resulted in the unnecessary death of their patient. The bereaved family were represented by clinical negligence solicitor Olive Lewin.

Image of a heart (c) Wellcome Photo Library

8 October 2003

More than £400,000 was paid to the family of a patient who died from endocarditis, a potentially fatal infection of the heart that affects the valves and heart chambers. The hospital admitted liability for failing to treat the patient adequately.

The Claimant was suffering from shortness of breath, night sweats and back pain. Blood tests showed that he had an infectious disease and he was admitted to hospital under the care of a chest physician. A diagnosis was made of bacterial endocarditis with aortic incompetence, an infection of the heart that caused one of the valves not to work properly.

The patient was kept in hospital for a fortnight and received intravenous antibiotic therapy, but he was not referred to a cardiologist. This is standard practice in cases of endocarditis.

The patient was readmitted a fortnight later with a raised temperature and was kept in for two nights before being sent home. When he went to an outpatients appointment two weeks later he was immediately admitted to a cardiac unit at a different hospital for emergency aortic valve replacement.

After the operation his condition was very unstable, his state of health worsened and he eventually died six months later.

Legal proceedings were issued for failure to adequately treat the claimant's condition and in due course an admission of liability was made. The defendant paid a sum in excess of £400,000 to his family in compensation. The family were represented by Olive Lewin, partner in Leigh Day & Co solicitors Clinical Negligence department.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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Our Expertise

Clinical negligence

Who worked on this case

Olive Lewin

Specialist Area

General surgery