Central West Sydney public hospital fails to diagnose infection resulting in patient death and $ 1 million in compensation for distraught family

Published 20 Aug 2016

Eight Plaintiffs have brought proceedings for psychiatric injury arising out of events that occurred on 17 July 2014 involving the family patriarch and local electrician.

On or about 10:30am on 17 July 2014 the deceased presented to the Emergency department of the Defendant presenting with lower back pain over a period of three months together with intermittent vomiting and associated symptomatology. Importantly, the deceased had a history of intravenous drug use when he was younger and had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. After an examination was conducted by a medical officer of the Defendant, a clinical impression was formed that the deceased suffered from mechanical lower back pain and prescribed Endone as well as Panadol.

The deceased was discharged.

On 28 July 2014 the deceased was readmitted to the defendant hospital again complaining of acute pain but this time talking irrationally with rapid speech, had signs of agitation, poor eye contact and an inability to effectively communicate.  The impression formed was ongoing back pain and dehydration.

He was discharged again.

On the same day the deceased fainted and became hypertensive and hypothermic. He then complained that he couldn’t breathe and at 10:12pm that evening, the deceased died.

The deceased cause of death was cardio respiratory arrest with a massive pulmonary embolus and internal damage to the aortic value due to aortic value infective endocarditis.

The defendant hospital failed to take reasonable care for the deceased by undertaking a series of test to exclude an infective cause of the deceased’s back pain including an MRI scan of the spine and also a procedure known as a ‘TOE’.

There was no trauma involved in the presentation by the deceased and the ongoing back pain and associated symptoms were a red flag for acute spinal infection. Additionally, his noted history of intravenous drug use was a major red flag that should have highlighted the necessity to exclude any infection as the cause of the deceased’s presenting symptoms.

An emergency specialist provided an opinion that the deceased should have been admitted to hospital and investigation with MRI as well as a TOE procedure because endocarditis was clearly a condition that needed to be excluded. Nothing was done to ensure that this was the case.

Had these two basic steps been taken there is no question that the deceased would not have passed away and the consequential psychiatric injury which has been sustained by his family members would not have occurred.

In the circumstances of the case on behalf of the plaintiffs (his family members) the defendant was negligent and the negligence caused the death of the deceased with a consequential result being psychiatric injury to the relatives of the deceased all of whom had brought proceedings.

Mr Leslie Abboud of our office handled the matter from start to finish obtaining opinions from relevant specialists and arranged to have the matter mediated. During the mediation the hospital accepted their liability and the matter was settled for in excess of $1,000,000.00 psychological harm to all the members of the close family of the deceased.

We are highly specialised and focused lawyers with Mr Abboud having in excess of 30 years’ experience in Medical Negligence and we have the financial medical expert resources to support and bring on your claim.

For over the phone free advice or to take advantage of our face to face consultation call our expert medical negligence team today on our free call number 1800 004 878.