Success for client whose wife died following a routine colonoscopy procedure

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3 minute read

A man using a phone to make a call

Our Deborah Hepple has recently settled a claim for the widow of a woman who died after suffering a perforation of her spleen during a routine colonoscopy procedure which was performed at Weston General Hospital (WGH).

Mrs Longden died in the early hours of 1 February 2018 following a routine colonoscopy at Weston General Hospital. She had previously undergone colonoscopy procedures without any problems and attended the endoscopy unit at WGH for the procedure on the morning of 31 January 2018. The procedure apparently went as planned and she was discharged home.

Soon after she was discharged home, Mrs Longden experienced excruciating pain which she categorised as “9/10”.  Her husband called the endoscopy department for advice a number of times that afternoon, and later that evening he also spoke to the NHS 111. He described Mrs Longden’s levels of pain to those he spoke to, and made it clear that he was very concerned about her condition.

When he asked if he should bring his wife into hospital Mr Longden was told there was a 3 ½ hour wait at A&E and was instead advised to make her a cup of tea and encourage her to walk around.

Mrs Longden’s condition deteriorated later that evening. Mr Longden contacted NHS 111 and gave a full account of her condition, and a category 3 was requested ambulance (to arrive within 2 hours). This was then changed to a call requiring an out of hours’ doctor. Mrs Longden then fell unconscious, and Mr Longden had to perform emergency CPR. He contacted the NHS 111 service again to stress the extreme urgency of the situation and an ambulance was called by them.

An ambulance arrived very shortly afterwards, the ambulance crew continued to perform CPR. Mrs Longden was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary by ambulance where she died in the early hours of the following morning.

We provided representation at an inquest into Mrs Longden’s death. Following a thorough three day inquest, the family were reassured to hear that a number of measures had been introduced by both WGH and NHS 111 with the aim of ensuring the kind of complications suffered by Mrs Longden should be recognised at an earlier stage so that treatment could be carried out. Among the procedures WGH said had been introduced was the requirement to provide proper advice to patients prior to discharge home following a colonoscopy procedure.

After the inquest, we went onto secure an admission of liability from WGH, who admitted that in the light of Mrs Longden’s symptoms, they should have told Mr Longden to bring his wife back to the hospital immediately, and not doing so represented a breach of duty of care. WGH admitted that had Mrs Longden returned to hospital by mid-afternoon, she would have undergone investigations that would likely have identified a bleed in her spleen and she would have been referred for emergency surgery. It is likely that there would have been sufficient time for the surgery to have been performed before she suffered a cardiac arrest at 21:41 hours, meaning Mrs Longden’s death could have been avoided.

We went onto secure a settlement for Mr Longden for £53,500 in compensation. There is no amount of money that will ever compensate Mr Longden for the loss of his wife but he took comfort in the fact that steps had been taken to ensure the same thing does not happen again. He has been reassured by WGH that they have made a number of changes and improvements since his wife’s death.

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