Hospital admits breach in duty of care after patient dies from brain haemorrhage

26 August 2021

Our client’s father died in December 2018 after he received negligent treatment and care in hospital, which resulted in a brain haemorrhage.

Client situation

In 2013, our client’s father, Mr C, underwent surgery to replace valves in his heart after contracting endocarditis (a potentially fatal heart infection). After the procedure, he was given a long-term prescription for blood-thinning medication called Warfarin.

Five years later, he went to hospital suffering with vomiting, diarrhoea, malaise, and a swollen right elbow following a fall. He was diagnosed with sepsis of an unknown source, and given treatment following the ‘Sepsis 6’ protocol, which sets out 6 steps for medical practitioners to follow when treating sepsis.

The hospital took bloods tests which revealed that the blood had severe coagulopathy (impairing its ability to clot) and a low platelet count.

It was not until the following morning on 8 September 2018 that a medical registrar noted the coagulopathy and consulted a haematologist. The haematologist recommended that Mr C should be given emergency treatment to correct the clotting defect.

The medication for this (Beriplex and Vitamin K) was prescribed in the morning but it was not administered until mid-afternoon. By this time Mr C had suffered a significant reduction in consciousness and his right pupil was dilated. A CT head scan was arranged whilst Beriplex was being administered, and this revealed a large intracranial haemorrhage.

Mr C was transferred for surgical treatment, but unfortunately, he didn’t recover. After returning to the hospital for neurorehabilitation, he died on 1 December 2018.

How we helped

Mr C’s son approached Co-op Legal Services in December 2018. Our medical negligence solicitors assessed the claim and agreed to take it on, on a no win no fee basis.

After Mr C died, the hospital carried out a Serious Injury Investigation Report, which concluded that there had been multiple failures in how he was cared for. These included:

  • An inappropriate transfer of Mr C to a surgical ward despite his severe sickness and instability, and without consultation with the medical team
  • Sub-optimal communications between the transfusion laboratory and clinicians
  • Delay in seeking advice from a consultant haematologist
  • Failure to correct very high INR and thrombocytopenia promptly, related to decision making, communication from labs and prescribing problems
  • Prescribing errors relating to the use of the MedChart system
  • Hospital guidelines were followed but were not suitable for this combination of problems

An inquest hearing then took place on 9 April 2019. The coroner concluded that there were two main treatment failings by the hospital:

  • Firstly, the failure to swiftly obtain and administer Beriplex and platelets to reverse the coagulopathy. It was concluded that this negligence very likely contributed to the bleed and death
  • Secondly, the fact that after an initial administration of antibiotics on 7 September 2018, whilst still in the emergency department, Mr C never received further antibiotics, despite a working diagnosis of sepsis

Co-op Legal Services wrote to the hospital trust inviting them to make an early admission of liability. They admitted that they had breached their duty of care towards Mr C and apologised for committing these breaches, but they didn’t admit that these breaches ultimately caused Mr C’s death.

Our medical negligence solicitors worked to establish the extent of the negligence and Mr C’s injuries and suffering, by:

  • Obtaining copies of Mr C’s GP records
  • Obtaining copies of Mr C’s medical records
  • Preparing a witness statement for Mr C’s son (our client)
  • Obtaining a report from a neurology expert

The outcome

Once these steps had been carried out, we corresponded with the hospital trust. We set out the full details of the claim, the evidence in support of the claim, and a schedule of loss detailing the appropriate amount of compensation that should be paid, along with an offer to settle.

They responded with an offer to settle the claim for £40,000 which was accepted.

This was a prolonged, difficult and emotional time for our client, after suffering the loss of his father. But with the assistance of Co-op Legal Services medical negligence team, a fair conclusion was reached.

More articles