Losing a loved one
Throughout 2013, Kenneth Warne’s wife Margaret had complained of tiredness and feeling unwell, so in June 2014 she attended her GP and was referred to a clinic for an endoscopy to be carried out.
Post-procedurally, Margaret was informed by doctors that they suspected there was cancer present in her oropharynx, the middle part of the throat. She was then referred to hospital where she underwent a CT scan. A month after this she also underwent an additional endoscopy, under sedation due to pain.
In August, Margaret was unfortunately diagnosed with carcinoma in situ of the oropharynx. She never complained about the cancer, however did complain about her bowels. The following month, a PEG tube was fitted into her stomach in order for nutrition and fluids to be put directly into her stomach, as she was unable to eat or drink. She also then started radiotherapy.
Kenneth and his daughter would feed his wife using a syringe and administer this to the PEG tube. She continued to suffer from complications with her bowels, which often caused constipation.
District nurses visited Margaret to provide her with enemas, in an attempt to ease bowel complications. Their daughter enquired with the cancer nurse about a machine which would help feed Margaret. The nurse dismissed this, however referred her for an x-ray at the hospital.
In early October, an x-ray was carried out and the results revealed that Margaret was experiencing chronic constipation. However, she was not provided with treatment for this, instead being given regular painkillers which only made the constipation worse. She was provided with laxatives, but these didn’t have any effect.
Unfortunately, in late October Margaret was taken back to hospital via ambulance as she was suffering from severe abdominal pain. Upon arrival, she was admitted and placed on a cancer ward. She was provided with laxatives and was discharged six days later.
During a follow-up appointment in December, a doctor advised that her throat looked good; however, Margaret raised her concerns about her bowels. She was referred urgently to see someone regarding her concerns.
A few days later Kenneth was provided with a machine to attach to his wife’s PEG; this allowed liquid food to enter her stomach at a good pace. However, Margaret needed to be admitted to hospital again as she was being sick and was in severe pain. Upon arrival at hospital, she was once again taken to the cancer ward but was discharged several days later with no further treatment or medication.
In early 2015, Kenneth contacted his wife’s GP and a doctor came to their house to perform an examination. He advised she would need to attend hospital immediately and upon arrival she was admitted to a surgical ward and underwent a scan.
Several days later, the hospital suggested that they wished to discharge Margaret again, however Kenneth and his daughter expressed their concerns and the doctor indicated she may instead require a stoma bag. Kenneth’s wife consented to this surgery and gave permission for the hospital to fit a stoma bag.
Following this, a doctor examined the scan results and informed Kenneth and his wife that they would need to carry out a different procedure, which Margaret agreed to. A couple of weeks later she underwent a laparotomy and Hartmann’s procedure. Following the surgery, she was taken to the critical care unit to recover, where Kenneth and his daughter visited later on.
When they arrived, the surgeon advised Kenneth that his wife was in a critical condition as her bowel had been cut too short in order to attach it to the stoma; this caused the bowel to open up inside of her and leak, causing severe septicaemia.
Margaret had been placed in a medically induced coma and her stomach was left open. She was taken back to surgery a few days later to close her stomach. She was then moved to a high dependency ward, but it was later discovered she had type two respiratory failure and pneumonia which necessitated return to the critical care unit.
A further three operations were carried out over the next week; these were in an attempt to clean out the abdominal area and correct the mistake. A surgeon later informed Kenneth that they would have to remove the stoma and move it; Margaret had to nod to agree to this procedure, as she was no longer able to talk.
The procedure was carried out and the stoma was moved to the other side to prevent cross-infection. The wound was then cleaned again several days later. Later in the month, Kenneth and his family were informed that the hospital had launched an internal investigation into his wife’s care. At the end of February, Margaret was discharged from the critical care unit and place in the high dependency unit.
Unfortunately, in mid-March, Kenneth’s wife suffered a heart attack. As a family, they agreed to turn off her life support machines and she sadly passed away the next day.
Kenneth contacted us to bring a claim in relation to the poor treatment his wife had received. In November 2016, the hospital trust admitted liability and stated that “the surgery performed fell below the standard of a responsible body of surgeons”. The defendant also admitted that as a consequence of the substandard surgery and following procedures, Kenneth’s wife suffered a prolonged period of pain and suffering.
We successfully settled Kenneth’s case for £44,000 in 2017, and although the compensation will never bring back his wife, we hope it ensures no one else has to go through what Kenneth has.
Amy Kirk, a medical negligence lawyer at Fletchers, handled Kenneth’s case and said, “This is a very sad case. Margaret left behind a loving family, husband and soulmate of 56 years. I hope the compensation will help Kenneth find closure and remember the precious memories of his wife.”
Amy Kirk - Case Lawyer
Key case timeline
We successfully settled Kenneth's case, and although the compensation will never bring back Margaret, we hope it will help him in the future and ensure this doesn't happen to anyone else.