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Written on 26th January 2023 by Ben Ireland

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence specialists secured a compensation settlement for a man with a pre-existing heart condition who suffered a pulmonary embolism (PE), prolonged breathlessness and psychological injury when staff at an urgent care centre failed to diagnose signs of infective endocarditis.

Infective endocarditis requires urgent medical treatment

Infective endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the chambers and valves of the heart. Infective endocarditis requires urgent medical treatment. The condition can be life threatening if untreated, as it can cause damage to the valves of the heart, arrhythmias, heart failure, heart attack, pulmonary emboli, and serious complications of infection, such as sepsis.

Delayed diagnosis of infective endocarditis in a patient with a heart condition led to pulmonary embolism (PE)

Our client contacted NHS 111 after feeling increasingly unwell with symptoms including a very high temperature (fever), severe headaches with light sensitivity, night sweats and rigors. Two COVID tests had been negative. His GP contacted him the following day and advised him to attend his local urgent care centre as soon as possible. He went to the urgent care centre where a triage nurse assumed he had COVID and questioned why he had not followed advice to stay away. After a telephone call and brief examination, a doctor prescribed antibiotics for COVID or urinary tract infection.

Two weeks later he saw his own GP who consulted a hospital medical registrar who recommended an out-patient echocardiogram (ECG) to check for endocarditis, given his past history of aortic valve replacement. Instead the GP arranged for him to be seen in the ambulatory care unit a few days later, where he was finally diagnosed with endocarditis. An ECG led to a diagnosis of probable infective endocarditis of his prosthetic pulmonary valve with severe pulmonary valve regurgitation. Blood cultures confirmed staph A infection and IV antibiotics were started. Whilst still receiving antibiotics,  after a further worrying ECG, he was put on the urgent transfer list for cardiac valve surgery. A few days later he experienced pleuritic chest pain and received treatment for a probable pulmonary embolism (PE). He was then transferred to Royal Brompton Hospital for cardiac surgery during which the infected pulmonary valve was replaced with a new prosthetic pulmonary valve and pulmonary artery graft.

Although, our client had a pre-existing cardiac condition and a history of surgical aortic and pulmonary valve replacement, he had been physically very fit and regularly engaged in competitive triathlon and marathon events.

The delayed diagnosis of infective endocarditis and the PE complicated his recovery and caused him to suffer a prolonged period of breathlessness. This affected his ability to care for himself, carry out his physically demanding work and return to his pre-injury level of physical fitness. These events and the consequences of his injury all contributed to him suffering a psychological injury.

Claim leads to admission of liability and compensation

We pursued our client’s claim against the defendant company which was responsible for providing healthcare services at the urgent care centre. The defendant admitted liability (fault) and, following settlement negotiations, we secured a  compensation settlement for our client.

Our client kindly commented: “Working with Ben was very easy. He kept us well informed of what and how everything was working. He explained lots of legal jargon and was very sympathetic and sensitive to me and the situation, reaching a resolution relatively quickly given the circumstances.”

If you have been seriously injured or disabled as a result of medical negligence, or have been contacted by NHS Resolution, HSIB, HSSIB or MNSI after hospital or medical care, you can talk to one of our experienced solicitors, free and confidentially, to seek advice or find out more about making a claim, by contacting us here.