Partner Awarded Compensation for the Missed Diagnosis of a Pulmonary Embolism

The partner of a man who died in hospital of “entirely avoidable circumstances” has been awarded compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism.

On November 17th 2009, Terry Emmett from Wokingham in Berkshire was finding it hard to breath and he attended his GP, who prescribed diuretics. Terry´s condition deteriorated during the day and he went to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and admitted for investigations.

Three days later, a pulmonary embolism was suspected, and Terry was administered thrombolytic treatment. However the treatment was too late to prevent a blood clot that had formed in Terry´s calf traveling up his body and blocking the main artery carrying blood to his lungs. Terry suffered a cardiac arrest and died the same day.

Terry´s partner of twenty-five years – Patricia Roriston – claimed compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism. Patricia claimed in her action that if thrombolytic treatment had been administered on the day following his admission into hospital, Terry would have survived without complications.

Following an investigation by the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, liability for Terry´s wrongful death was admitted, but the NHS Trust disputed how much compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism Patricia was entitled to. The NHS Trust claimed that Terry was suffering from obesity and would have been unable to return to work as an electrical engineer had he made a full recovery.

The NHS Trust´s offer of £35,000 compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism was dismissed by Patricia on advice from her solicitor, and the case went to the High Court in London. At the hearing Judge Sir Robert Francis QC agreed with Patricia that Terry was a hard-working and “larger than life” character, who would have continued working and providing for his family until the day he died.

The judge awarded Patricia £200,503 compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism, after which Patricia commented: The family do not see this award as a victory as nothing can bring Terry back but we are pleased that Judge Francis’ decision has finally brought justice for Terry.”