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Incorrect Diagnosis Leads To Tragic Death of Wellingborough Pensioner

Following a fall at home, Mr Brian Pettitt of Wellingborough, Northants attended the A&E Department at Kettering General Hospital.

He was in considerable pain and a CT scan was performed which reported no fractures and Mr Pettitt was therefore discharged home.

That evening he experienced further pain down his arms and legs and was returned to hospital by ambulance the following day.

The CT scan was reviewed and he was advised that fractures to his fourth and fifth vertebrae had been missed and he was therefore urgently transferred to Coventry Hospital for surgery.

Mr Pettitt was 82 years of age at the time and sadly he passed away 3 months later.

Mr Pettitt’s family desperately needed to understand what had happened and why, so instructed the specialist medical negligence team at Wilson Browne Solicitors to pursue a claim in negligence against Kettering General Hospital. This would necessitate full disclosure of what had led to a breakdown in his care, which ultimately led to the failure in identifying the fracture on the original CT scan: this resulted in Mr Pettitt suffering paralysis, chest infection and subsequently his death.

Kettering General Hospital admitted fault and paid compensation of £33,000 to Mr Pettitt’s widow.

Louise Tyler, Head of Medical Negligence Specialist Team at Wilson Browne commented:

“Sadly we are seeing a number of cases where scans and x-rays are being misread. This regrettable and avoidable case highlights what devastating consequences that can have for patients and their families.”

Some may be surprised at the seemingly low sum put on the loss of a loved one under such tragic circumstances. Louise Tyler added:

“…the amount of compensation is low because sadly when an elderly person dies in this country then all you can recover is fairly limited compensation. Bereavement damages which are set by the Government are currently only £12,980 and are recoverable if there is a spouse. In addition, it depends if the deceased leaves financial dependents.”

(Louise is a member of both the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel, the AvMA (Action for Victims of Medical Accidents) Panel and has been appointed to the Executive Committee of the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers (SCIL). Her membership of the specialist panels recognises her experience and affirms her expertise in representing clients with clinical negligence claims.)