Q&A GP telephone consultation produced misdiagnosis and my husband died. Can I sue?

Q:      My husband was 62, fit and healthy. In February this year he suffered sharp chest pains whilst cycling. He called the GP but waited 3 days for a telephone consultation as they are still not automatically doing face to face consultations. The GP said it sounded like a mild angina attack that may never recur. She prescribed a glyceryl trinitrate spray and told him to ‘keep an eye’ on his blood pressure. After pressing several times, he finally got a hospital appointment for a coronary angiogram in April.

The hospital immediately ordered a transfer to a specialist cardiac unit for an urgent triple by-pass, but he had a massive heart attack and died before arrival. I believe the shock of finding how serious his condition was killed him. And I believe the GP was negligent in making the (wrong) diagnosis over the phone. She did not even take his blood pressure in person. Can I sue the GP?

A:       If your GP was negligent, you would be entitled to compensation, particularly as your husband was of working age and may otherwise have had a considerable life expectancy. As well as providing financial security for you, pursuing a claim would highlight the dangers of potential misdiagnosis due to not conducting a face-to-face consultation.

If the signs were there and your GP was made aware of them, but her failure or delay to provide a correct diagnosis resulted in your husband having a heart attack and dying, then you would be entitled to make a medical negligence claim. In addition, it seems that appropriate further action was also delayed, which almost certainly added to your husband’s stress and could have worsened his symptoms. You should compile a comprehensive report of the events leading up to your husband’s death, together with his medical reports and test results, and make an appointment to see a specialist medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.

This question has been answered by Robert Williams, a Partner with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham