Epsom General Hospital was found to be at fault in causing the tragic death of Mrs Audrey Summers through numerous failings in medical care. Dominic Fairclough (partner) advised the family in relation to this negligence case, which is one of the worst cases he has seen.

The facts of the case

Mrs Summers was admitted to Epsom General Hospital complaining of pain and numbness in her left leg. She was at high risk of developing pressure sores but she was incorrectly assessed on admission, which meant that preventative measures were not put in place. She consequently developed a pressure ulcer, which did not heal and became progressively worse.

A doctor gave evidence at the inquest that the hospital suspected Mrs Summers may have a vascular issue with her leg. Despite this, there were multiple delays in arranging ultrasound and CT scans and referring her to a specialist. As a result, Mrs Summers was not diagnosed with vascular disease until more than a week later.

Tragically, by the time surgery was to be carried out Mrs Summers was no longer fit to undergo an operation because she had acquired a chest infection. She was placed on palliative care and died less than a month later.

The Coroner's verdict

The coroner concluded that Mrs Summers' unnecessarily long stay in hospital, coupled with the development of pressure sores, increased the risk of her acquiring the infection. If earlier investigations had been carried out and the pressure ulcer had been prevented, on the balance of probabilities Mrs Summers would have undergone surgery which she would have survived.

What happens next?

Mrs Summers' family are now pursuing a negligence claim against the Trust, claiming compensation on behalf of her estate.