Death from delay in treating a stomach injury

Jack, a Husband and father of two young children died aged 29.  He had been injured in a car accident a week earlier when he was a back seat passenger and wearing a seatbelt.  The car was driven by his cousin.

The car overtook on the brow of a hill, resulting in a head-on collision with another car.  The Police and Ambulance were called and Jack who did not appear too badly injured, was taken to Hospital.  He was examined and discharged home.  In the following days he deteriorated quite quickly and was admitted to a different Hospital.  The diagnosis was a perforated bowel, which was operated on.  However, he never recovered and sadly died  just over a week after the accident.  The cause of death on the Death Certificate was cerebral injury due to cardiac arrest (during the operation), and peritonitis as a result of perforation of the small bowel, and a blunt force injury of the abdomen (both sustained in the road traffic accident).

The cousin was charged with causing death by dangerous driving.  He pleaded guilty.    He admitted liability for the accident but not the death.  In respect of the death he blamed:-

  • The A&E Department who saw the Deceased immediately after the accident and did not diagnose the perforation of the small bowel.
  • Jacks GP – he was telephoned a few days prior to admission to Hospital.  He should have examined and admitted Jack to hospital.
  • The second Hospital – who failed to diagnose and treat the perforated bowel soon enough and so prevent the death.

After starting Court proceedings the second Hospital admitted legal blame and responsibility for the death.

The case was settled for £300,000 shortly before the trial.  The 2 children received a total of £46,000 and the balance was paid to his Widow.

Hilton Armstrong – November 2020