Aspirin would have saved his life admits Rotherham Hospital

Wake Smith Solicitors 16 May 2017

Rotherham General Hospital has admitted liability for the death of a 51-year old man in 2011 - saying it could have been prevented by the simple prescribing of aspirin.

Self-employed mechanic Paul Williams died at the hospital on October 19 following a catastrophic stroke. He had previously attended Rotherham’s A&E department 16 days before after suffering a series of mini-strokes but was discharged without further treatment.

After first denying back in August 2015, the claims that it was responsible for Mr Williams’ death, the Trust finally admitted liability in January this year and settled the claim last month with Paul’s wife Kathleen receiving an undisclosed sum.

Solicitors working on the case say the hospital not only failed to prevent Mr Williams’ death but also racked up expensive and unnecessary legal costs, at a time when NHS budgets are at crisis point, by delaying its admission that failings at the Trust led to Mr Williams’ death.

Clinical negligence solicitor Scott Haslam from Wake Smith in Sheffield, who lead the case, said: “What is concerning about this case is that the clinical staff in A&E at Rotherham General Hospital failed to identify that Mr Williams was at high risk of suffering a stroke when he first attended on October 3. Had they done so, the prescription of aspirin would have been enough to have prevented his fatal stroke.

“In August 2015, Rotherham Hospital accepted that Mr Williams should have been prescribed aspirin by A&E, but continued to deny that it would have prevented his death.  Unnecessary legal costs and medical expert fees were incurred, for which Rotherham Hospital will now be responsible.”

The hospital has now formally written to Kathleen Williams apologising that the care Mr Williams received fell below the standard he was entitled to expect.

Wake Smith obtained expert evidence from a number of professionals, including specialists in neurology and stroke treatment, who identified that Mr Williams’ symptoms reported to A&E on October 3 should have been taken more seriously.

They all agreed Mr Williams was suffering from a TIA, a mini-stroke, at that time, that he had suffered a number of these and that he should have been assessed as being at high risk of stroke.

Scott added: “Our experts confirmed Mr Williams should have been seen by a Stroke Specialist.  He would have been admitted to hospital and would have been treated with blood thinning drugs. These would have prevented his stroke and he would not have died.”

Mr Williams first attended the A&E department at Rotherham General Hospital on October 3, 2011. He was complaining of a numb sensation in his teeth and on the right side of his face, and altered sensation on the right side of his face, body, and in his right arm. Each episode had lasted for around two minutes and he had suffered two such episodes.

He also experienced numbness and tingling to the right side of his tongue which was intermittent, lasting for a minute at a time, but had been present for around two months. He also complained of a constant headache and neck pain. He was discharged by the A&E department without further treatment.

Mr Williams revisited his GP on October 11 and was referred to a physician at Rotherham General Hospital.  Before the appointment arrived, he collapsed at work on October 17 and was taken to Rotherham General Hospital by ambulance, where it was thought that he may have suffered a stroke.

He was admitted and further investigations were carried out.  Unfortunately, on 18 October he suffered a catastrophic stroke.  He was intubated at first but following assessment it was thought that there was no chance of a recovery and his family were informed.  They stayed with him until his death on 19 October.

The above information was put to the Trust in a Letter of Claim in April 2015 by Wake Smith.

Scott added: “The Trust responded in August 2015 and admitted that a TIA should have been considered and that Mr Williams should have been reviewed urgently in the Stroke Clinic and prescribed aspirin in the intervening period.

“The Trust denied that admission to hospital was necessary but accepted that Mr Williams would have been provided with aspirin which was insufficient to prevent his eventual stroke.

“Court proceedings were issued in October 2015 with the Trust continuing to deny that it was responsible for Mr Williams’ death until January this year when it finally accepted liability.

“This case has highlighted the need for the NHS to accept when it is at fault and try to resolve claims without the need for Court proceedings.  Had that happened in this matter, the cost of the claim would have been greatly reduced.

“The case results will hopefully mean that patients in a similar position to Mr Williams will be correctly assessed and referred for treatment to a Stroke Physician.”

For further advice on clinical negligence and personal injury matters contact the team at Wake Smith Solicitors on 0114 266 6660.

Pic caption: (from left to right): Kathleen Williams, Karl Williams (front) and Paul Williams



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