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Trust admits negligent failure over pensioner’s death

September 17 2014

The Trust which runs East Surrey Hospital has admitted that its negligent failure to treat a seventy-year-old Crawley woman for tuberculosis led to her death in 2012.

Pensioner Iris Smith had been admitted to East Surrey Hospital on two separate occasions in the months leading up to her death on 2nd September, reports the Crawley News website.

She presented with complaints of abdominal pain, chest pain and respiratory problems. During her first admission, abnormalities were identified on a CT scan of her chest but tuberculosis medication was not given to her.

Following her second admission to the hospital on 2nd August, 2012, Mrs Smith’s condition remained undiagnosed and she died of miliary tuberculosis when still an in-patient.

At the inquest into her death on 18th September, 2013, assistant Surrey coroner Dr Karen Henderson said that the delay in diagnosing and treating Mrs Smith’s tuberculosis had lowered her chances of survival and that treatment was given too late.

However, the assistant coroner found that the failure to diagnose and treat Mrs Smith’s tuberculosis earlier was not due to neglect.

Despite the findings of the assistant coroner, Mrs Smith’s family believed that if her tuberculosis had been identified and treated sooner, she would have survived.

A law firm was instructed to pursue a clinical negligence claim against Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH).

SASH has recently admitted that, on several occasions during Mrs Smith’s treatment, there was a failure to consider tuberculosis and commence treatment immediately.

The trust acknowledged that, had Mrs Smith received anti-tuberculosis treatment at any time on or before 15th August, 2012, just weeks prior to her death, she would have survived.

A spokesman for the law firm handling the case, said: “Mrs Smith’s pain and suffering prior to her death were extremely distressing.

“Her family were forced to endure the stressful lead up to her sad death and they now have to live with the realisation that, had Mrs Smith received a reasonable standard of care at East Surrey Hospital and been treated sooner, she would still be with them today.”

The clinical negligence claim is ongoing and a settlement is yet to be agreed between the parties.

If you think you or your family have suffered as a result of a mistake by a medical practitioner, contact PM Law’s team of personal injury specialists at our Sheffield office on 0114 296 5444.