Grandfather died after hospital misdiagnosed life-threatening condition as muscle strain and sent him home


A grandmother has spoken of her devastation at the death of her husband after a hospital misdiagnosed a life-threatening condition as muscle strain and sent him home.

David Withers, who was 72 when he died, was not offered a routine scan to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was sent home from Leighton Hospital Crewe without the surgery he urgently needed even though he had clear symptoms, was in the at risk age bracket and thorough investigations had not been carried out.

David deteriorated overnight and was rushed back to hospital in the morning where he died from the ruptured aneurysm, leaving wife Julia, his three children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
After Julia (77) sought help from the specialist medical negligence solicitors at law firm JMW their investigation revealed that he should have been offered a scan and the aneurysm diagnosed, which would have saved his life. After a case was brought by JMW, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation trust admitted failing to diagnose the aneurysm and has now agreed to pay a five figure compensation settlement following David’s death. However Julia says nothing can make up for the loss of her husband and wants lessons to be learned to ensure other men are offered scans and diagnosed in time to save their lives.

Julia, of Sandbach, commented: “I have lost my husband and my children have lost their father. Our lives will never be the same again. When he was readmitted to hospital a consultant came to talk to us and said he was very poorly and that we needed to be with him. I said ‘but you sent him home’. By the time we got back to David he had already died.

“I am angry that David was discharged from hospital when he had symptoms of an aneurysm. I believe that if he had been listened to and properly examined, the aneurysm would have been found and David could have received treatment. Since David’s death, my family and I have discovered there is an NHS screening programme in place for men of David’s age who are at greater risk of aortic abdominal aneurysms and the hospital should have known this and been alert to the symptoms. The hospital missed the glaring opportunity to do this scan.

“I cannot bear the thought of any other families going through the same distressing ordeal and want to make any other men with similar symptoms aware that they may need a scan and to ask for one.” 
Eddie Jones, head of medical negligence at JMW, said David’s was a tragic case which highlighted a number of worrying issues. He commented: “David’s age and symptoms were clear warning signs that he was suffering from an aneurysm yet he was discharged home with a diagnosis of muscle strain and without a scan which would have revealed the danger he was in.

“Our evidence found that if David had been correctly diagnosed and undergone surgery he would have survived. However Julia and her family will have to live with the consequences of the hospital’s decision for the rest of their lives and nothing can make up for the loss of a much-loved husband, father and grandfather.”

Julia and David’s ordeal began on 10 December 2011. Julia returned home at about 4.30pm to find David suffering severe abdominal pain which he said had started with a severe shock that felt like a hammer blow. David vomited and went to bed, which was very unusual for him. At about 5.15pm Julia called NHS Direct and after receiving unsatisfactory advice called the out of hours GP service and spoke to a nurse who told her to call an ambulance.

David was seen by a hospital doctor at 8.35pm who ordered blood and urine tests, which came back normal necessitating further investigations. However no scans were ordered and David was diagnosed with muscle strain and discharged home at 11pm. That night David deteriorated and collapsed at 7am the next morning. Julia called an ambulance and he was rushed back to hospital however he died from a ruptured aortic aneurysm at 9am. 

For more information:
Kelly Hindle
0161 828 1868

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