Dominic Fairclough, Partner in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Team was the advocate for the family of Clifford Cox deceased whose tragic death was the subject of an Inquest at Southend Coroner's Court on Thursday 3rd November 2011.
The Inquest heard that Mr Cox was admitted to Southend Hospital on 3rd August 2005 suffering chest pain. Ultimately he was advised that a cardiac procedure (angioplasty) be performed which was undertaken on 8th August 2005.
After the angioplasty was completed, under local anaesthetic, Mr Cox was transferred to the ward where shortly afterwards he suffered an arrest from which he was unable to be resuscitated and he died on the same day as undertaking the procedure.
The original post mortem report concluded that Mr Cox's death was as a result of natural causes due to his underlying heart disease and the pathologist did not link the death to the procedure performed at Southend Hospital.
Concerns were expressed by Mr Cox's family regarding the conclusion of the pathologist and ultimately expert cardiac evidence obtained by the family, and subsequently by Russell-Cooke Solicitors, concluded that there had been an error during the cardiac procedure which was directly linked to the death and that the conclusion reached by the pathologist was incorrect.
After having settled the clinical negligence claim matters were referred to the police and ultimately back to the Coroner who decided that an Inquest should be called. At the time of the Inquest evidence had been obtained in the course of General Medical Council (GMC) proceedings relating to the cardiologist involved at Southend Hospital and to the pathologist. In evidence, the original pathologist confirmed his conclusion in the post mortem report was incorrect and that there was a link between the amount of blood found in Mr Cox's abdomen and the performance of the procedure undertaken shortly before his death.
Further, the consultant cardiologist who performed the procedure admitted in evidence that just before the end of the angioplasty she left her junior registrar to review the films being taken of the procedure which demonstrated a rupture of the artery. The consultant confirmed she would have picked up the rupture had she stayed to review the films which she should have done, which she accepted was a gross failure in her duty of care to Mr Cox.
Expert evidence heard at the Inquest concluded that had the arterial rupture been picked up when it should have been, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Cox was likely to have survived.
In the circumstances, the Coroner reached the conclusion that Mr Cox's death was due to complications from a medical procedure contributed to by neglect.