Suffering a ‘never event’
Ms C, a mum-of-three from London, developed a dry cough in early 2016; she didn’t believe it was anything important and would clear up on its own. However after several days the cough wasn’t budging and Ms C decided to see her GP, who prescribed her with antibiotics to help clear the cough.
Two days after seeing her GP, Ms C went round to her neighbour’s house for a cup of tea in the afternoon, however whilst there she felt a sudden pain in her left shoulder, from her neck and all the way down her left arm.
Ms C felt her breathing become irregular and her neighbour thought she may have trapped air and advised her to drink some boiled water. However at this point Ms C decided to return home as she felt she needed to lie down. When she got home she found she couldn’t sit or lie down due to the pain, she crawled up the stairs and her partner immediately called an ambulance. The pain was so severe Ms C felt as if she was having a heart attack.
An ambulance arrived and paramedics completed various checks; an ECG was carried out and Ms C was provided with gas and air before being taken to Kings College Hospital for further treatment. Her partner accompanied her in the ambulance, during this time Ms C was upset and describes herself as ‘feeling horrible and frightened’ throughout the journey.
When she arrived at hospital Ms C continued to cough, felt nauseous and was still experiencing pain on the left side of her chest. She underwent several tests to assess if there were any issues with her heart. Later she was transferred to the Resuscitation Department as the results to her tests showed she had a pneumothorax, a collapsed left lung.
A trainee nurse attempted to fit Ms C with a chest drain, unfortunately during the procedure Ms C noticed that the wire had become stuck and she nurse had to cut this. A senior nurse stepped in to make another incision lower down and the drain was then fitted successfully and began to release the air within her lung.
Ms C remained on the hospital ward for several days as more tests needed to be carried out and she would need to be closely monitored. Two days after being admitted to hospital Ms C’s drain was removed and she had two x-rays before being discharged the next day, with advice to come back if her chest symptoms or breathlessness returned.
A couple of days after coming home, Ms C received a call advising her notes had been read incorrectly and the x-ray had revealed some abnormalities, meaning she was required to go back to hospital immediately. Upon returning to hospital Ms C underwent another x-ray which didn’t reveal any problems, the doctor informed her she was fine and could go home with a follow-up appointment for a later date.
After several days Ms C was still experiencing severe pain and the area around the drain site was now sore and itchy. She decided to return to hospital, where another blood test and x-ray was carried out. Ms C explained her symptoms to the hospital staff however the test results displayed no explanation for her pain and she was discharged.
A week later she attended a follow-up appointment with the Respiratory Clinic where further x-rays were taken and she explained she was experiencing left sided chest pain again, but no further treatment was given and Ms C was sent home.
Over the next few days Ms C returned to hospital several times as her condition had not improved and she was still experiencing significant chest pain. Doctors advised she was suffering from musculoskeletal pain due to inflammation where the drain had been. Another x-ray was taken however no abnormalities were found.
Almost a month after her original appointment with her GP, Ms C attended A&E, informing doctors she was still in pain where the drain had been inserted and was still struggling with shortness of breath. She underwent a chest and abdominal x-ray which indicated there was a foreign body in her abdomen. A CT scan was carried out immediately and this displayed, and confirmed, a wire from the initial chest drain insertion had been left in situ.
Ms C was admitted and a few days later underwent keyhole surgery to remove the wire. During the procedure, surgeons found tissue in her stomach which had molded around her liver as the wire had been inside her body for such a long period.
The negligence from medical professionals has had a large impact on Ms C’s life. Even after the wire removal she still had pain her stomach and across her abdomen. Ms C has also been left very frightened by the situation and if she has any pain now she starts to panic.
During this traumatic time Ms C relied heavily on her partner to provide care and assistance throughout the day. Her son also stepped in to help with jobs around the house and was always on hand to help with simple things like putting Ms C’s shoes and socks on.
Ms C decided to contact Fletchers to discuss bringing a medical negligence claim against the Trust. We acted on behalf of Ms C and in July of this year, the Trust admitted that there had been a failure to insert the chest drain with adequate care and skills and the drain was incorrectly positioned. They also admitted they had failed to identify the guide wire when reviewing Ms C’s chest x-ray images.
We settled Ms C’s case for £18,000, which we hope will help her move towards putting the negligence behind her and help her look forward to the future.
Chloe Westwell, a lawyer who dealt with Ms C’s commented on the never event,
I hope that the compensation Ms C has received will go towards helping her and her family move on from this ordeal. This case just highlights never event situations and the importance of insuring that these do not occur. I wish Ms C all the best for the future.
If you’ve suffered any kind of hospital negligence similar to what happened to Ms C, then please don’t hesitate to call us now on 03300 080 321 to talk to someone who’ll understand what you’re going through. Or alternatively, you can fill out a form here.
Chloe Westwell - Case Lawyer
Key case timeline
A chest drain was incorrectly positioned when Ms C was admitted to hospital with a pnuemothorax. Treating clinicians failed to noticed that the guidewire from the chest drain was fragmented and didn't recognise there were two drains in situ. Ms C had her chest drain removed, however a guidewire from the first drain was left in her body. She had visited hospital on several occasions in severe pain, however hospital staff failed to notice the wire, despite several x-rays taking place. Ms C suffered severe pains on her left side , along with tenderness and inflammation for over three weeks. The wire was noted when she was re-admitted and Ms C was required to undergo surgery to remove it.
We settled Ms C's case for £18,000.
The Trust admitted negligence and failure to insert the chest drain with adequate care and skill, the drain had been incorrectly positioned and they had failed to identify the guide wire when reviewing Ms C's chest x-rays.