Q: My brother collapsed and died in a supermarket after calling in on his way home from hospital for milk. He had been sent to the hospital earlier that day after attending his local surgery with chest pains, but the hospital sent him home without any tests, saying it was probably indigestion. A post mortem showed he had a blocked artery.
I have read that in most patients blocked arteries show up on a scan and can then be treated. My brother wasn’t even given the opportunity of a CT scan. My sister in law is completely devastated. I think she should be seeing a solicitor about suing the hospital for clinical negligence. Would she have a case?
A: On the face of it, your sister in law may have a claim against the hospital. Chest pains can occur for various different reasons, but it is important to make sure that the pain is not related to the heart.
To investigate the cause of chest pains, it is quite standard for hospitals to undertake a ‘Troponin test’ (a blood test which can reveal damage to the heart muscle). It is also quite common for a patient to have an ECG and possibly a CT scan which can detect, or hopefully rule out, damage to the heart as a possible cause of chest pain.
Medical evidence may well confirm that if your brother’s chest pains had been properly investigated at the time, the tests would have indicated he was at high risk of having a heart attack. If so, you are right to say that this most probably could have been treated with stenting, for example. Your sister in law should contact a local firm of Solicitors to discuss the claim further.