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Cardiac disease, heart disease and cardiovascular disease refer to disorders affecting the heart muscle and blood vessels or circulatory system. It is estimated that more than 6 million people in England are living with cardiovascular disease (CVD), and around 7 million throughout the UK.  Cardiovascular disease is one of the nation’s leading killers and is responsible for a quarter of all deaths in the UK.

Cardiology is the specialist field of medicine which focusses on diagnosis and treatment of heart and circulatory disorders. It is one of the NHS in England’s largest specialist areas of medical care. Its work involves many different types of care in a variety of settings, including the management of patients with long-term heart and circulatory conditions, surgery and other invasive procedures, and emergency care.

Heart disease and cardiovascular conditions can be life-threatening, and often require urgent, specialist treatment, but many can be treated or managed with timely diagnosis and appropriate care.  This serious, highly specialist area of medicine also gives rise to large numbers of claims, many associated with the patient’s death or severe, permanent injury and disability resulting from delays or mistakes in diagnosis and care.

Where a patient suffers severe injury or dies as a result of negligent care they, or their bereaved family, have a right to compensation.  

Previous Cases

£1.5 million settlement after repeated medical errors left our client tetraplegic. After discharge following unnecessary spinal surgery he was readmitted to hospital and incorrectly placed on a cardiac ward with no spinal, orthopaedic or neurological review. There, he was left to sleep in a chair. He fell forwards, injuring his cervical spine but his paralysis was ignored until it had become permanent.

Judgment at trial and subsequent substantial settlement for a woman who suffered a cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), cardiac arrest and severe neurological injury which left her in a minimally aware state as a result of negligent obstetric and postnatal care.

£1 million settlement in a strongly contested claim for a child with limited life expectation following cardiac arrest, brain injury and tetraplegia from negligent care of his asthma.

£250,000 settlement for a widow whose husband died after three GPs failed to refer him for cardiac review, despite his repeated complaints of chest pain and history of heart problems. 

£200,000 settlement for a boy whose mother died as a result of a negligently performed cardioversion procedure for atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm). 

Admission of liability in a claim for the dependent children of a mother who died after delays in treatment for cardiac sarcoid.

Settlement for a man with a pre-existing heart condition who suffered a pulmonary embolism, breathlessness and psychological injury after urgent care centre medical staff failed to recognise that he was suffering from infective endocarditis. 

Who can I claim cardiac care compensation from?

Cardiology involves multidisciplinary care from a range of different professionals.  Heart-related death or severe injury can also be caused by the negligent failure of other types of medical specialists, such as general practitioners (GPs), obstetricians or emergency medicine specialists, to involve cardiac specialists in their patients’ care. Claims for compensation may arise from failings in care by professionals from more than one healthcare specialty or organisation. After investigating the circumstances of the injury, we advise our clients on the correct NHS organisations or private healthcare professional ‘defendants’ for their claim.

Cardiac and heart disease claims may arise from negligent treatment by:

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What medical errors lead to cardiac and heart disease negligence claims?

Cardiac and heart disease negligence claims often arise after one or more of the following healthcare mistakes:

  • failure to diagnose a heart or circulatory condition;
  • delayed diagnosis;
  • misdiagnosis/wrong diagnosis;
  • delay or failure to treat a heart or circulatory condition;
  • incorrect treatment or mismanagement of heart attack, heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions;
  • delayed or negligently performed procedures, such as angioplasty;
  • negligently performed surgical procedures;  
  • perfusion errors;
  • failing to refer a patient for cardiological review, scans or other investigations;
  • misinterpretation of ECGs, scans and other test results;
  • inadequate cardiac monitoring;
  • medication errors;
  • unnecessary or unjustified cardiac treatment;
  • incorrect advice;
  • post-operative or follow up failures;
  • failing to warn a patient about the risks and benefits of a procedure or treatment (informed consent).

Cardiac care claims often involve negligent care of the following conditions:  

  • heart attack (myocardial infarction);
  • heart failure;
  • heart disease;
  • coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease (CHD) or ischaemic heart disease (narrowing of blood vessels supplying the heart);
  • strokes or TIA (transient ischaemic attack or mini stroke);   
  • aortic disease or aortic aneurysm;
  • abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias);
  • high blood pressure (hypertension);
  • inflammation or infection (such as endocarditis);
  • embolism and thrombosis (blood clots);
  • management of congenital heart conditions.

Cardiology claims also arise from negligently performed procedures, such as:

  • cardiac catheterisation;
  • angioplasty;
  • cardioversion;
  • ablation;
  • surgery.

Or from resources and equipment issues, such as:

  • equipment failure, faulty devices;
  • shortage of specialist equipment;
  • lack of out-of-hours access to specialist services, (such as scans);
  • shortage of available specialist or properly trained staff.

Cardiac and heart disease claims can also arise when heart failure or cardiac arrest is the result of negligent treatment for other conditions, such as:

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What kind of injuries lead to cardiac and heart disease claims?

Injuries which often lead to compensation claims include:

  • death or fatal injury;
  • brain injury;
  • neurological injury;
  • cardiac arrest;
  • heart failure;
  • stroke;
  • organ failure;
  • amputation;
  • PTSD or other severe psychological injury.
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How common are cardiac and heart disease claims?

Cardiology and cardiovascular medicine as a healthcare specialty has one of the highest numbers of medical negligence claims. This is partly because cardiologists are carrying out more interventional procedures, such as cardiac catheterisation and coronary angioplasty. Claims for injury related to these procedures arise both from failing to warn the patient of the risk of injury from complications (informed consent) or from injury caused by errors in technique. 

However, the MDU has reported that claims against cardiologists also commonly arise from delayed diagnosis or treatment of both cardiac and non-cardiac conditions. Each year, more than 80,000 people are admitted to English hospitals with heart attack, however, according to The British Heart Foundation (BHF), research from ten years of NHS data found that nearly one third of people suffering a heart attack are initially misdiagnosed, causing unnecessary injury and avoidable deaths.

The ageing population and increasing number of people with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, means that doctors are often treating people with increased risk of heart and cardiovascular conditions and complications.

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Heart and circulatory conditions requiring specialist medical care

Examples of common forms of heart disease which require specialist treatment include:

  • Angina:  experienced as chest pain, either when active or at rest, from narrowing of the arteries which supply the blood flow to the heart.  
  • Ischaemic heart disease also known as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease (CHD): caused by narrowed coronary (heart) arteries reducing the blood supply to the heart.
  • Cardiomyopathy: weakened heart muscle.
  • Arrhythmia: irregular beating of the heart, such as supraventricular tachycardia or atrial fibrillation (AF) which can lead to cardiomyopathy, problems with the valves of the heart, and strokes.
  • Atherosclerosis: in which fatty deposits clog up the arteries, increasing the risk of blood clots and damage to the arteries in the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.
  • Endocarditis: inflammation of the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves, usually caused by infection.
  • Cardiac sarcoidosis: inflammation caused by clusters of immune cells within the heart which affect heart function.
  • Heart valve disease (valvular heart disease): one or more of the valves within the heart are not functioning properly.
  • Heart failure:  when the heart muscle is no longer able to pump blood around the body.
  • Heart attack:  a life-threatening condition, needing 999 emergency treatment, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart becomes blocked, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the heart and damaging the heart muscle. Heart attack is usually experienced while conscious and breathing, as a feeling of squeezing across the chest, along with an uneasy feeling that something’s not right. Pain may radiate into the left arm or into the neck and jaw. Heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest.
  • Cardiac arrest: a critical medical emergency which occurs suddenly and causes loss of consciousness. The heart stops beating and there is no pulse. Patients experiencing a cardiac arrest need immediate treatment to avoid brain damage and death.
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Cardiac negligence cases

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"Julie Marsh is a first rate litigator"

Julie Marsh is a first rate litigator who adds real value to all her cases. I have always been impressed not just by her expertise as a clinical negligence lawyer but by the way she treats every client as an individual and works on their case as if it is the most important thing in the world, which to many clients it really is.

King's Counsel

"You have given fantastic support and guidance"

Boyes Turner have a great asset in Julie Marsh, she has handled my case with such professionalism and has kept me informed at every stage over the 6 years. She has given me guidance, support and that personal touch where I could ring or email at any time and she would always answer and give me answers to any questions I had. Would recommend without hesitation. Thank you

Boyes Turner Client

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Tara Byrne kept me well informed at all stages of my claim. I have been impressed with the way my case was handled, and the time scale within which a settlement was reached.”

Boyes Turner Client

"Very Professional "

Boyes Turner helped me through one of the toughest times in my life. They were very professional whilst remaining friendly. At times the process was emotionally tough but they were very patient with me and went through everything with me until I understood it. I cannot recommend them enough. 

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"We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough"

Words cannot express how grateful we are to Susan and her team for the level of commitment and dedication shown to our family during a time which would be difficult for anyone. Susan demonstrates a calm professional manner which helped us to feel at ease. Her level of knowledge has proven to be the best in the field and we fully recommend her to anyone seeking to investigate birth injury claims. You can be confident that Susan and her team will scrutinise the medical notes thoroughly and will keep you well informed throughout the process. We are very pleased with the outcome of our child’s case and know that her work has resulted in justice being achieved. Our family will now be able to move forward in the knowledge that the finances are securely in place for our child to receive a suitable care package, purchase equipment and receive necessary lifelong therapy. We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough.

Boyes Turner Client