Symptoms of a heart attack confused with soft tissue injury from blood pressure monitoring cuff!

Mrs F was an elderly lady under investigation for hypertension by her GP.  On 15 June she was given a 24 hour blood pressure cuff to wear.   During the evening of 17 June she developed aching pain down the left side of her neck; around her left breast;  and down her left arm.  In the early hours of 18 June she was woken up with pain in her back and left shoulder;  and under her left armpit and she took two Paracetamol.

When she woke in the morning, the symptoms, while a little less, were still there and so Mr F took his wife to a Walk-In centre attached to the local hospital.  Mrs F was seen by a Nurse Practitioner who noted the history regarding the blood pressure cuff and concluded that Mrs F’s symptoms were as a result of the repeated light compression of the soft tissue by the blood pressure cuff and that they should ease over the next day or two.

The symptoms were constant for the next few days but on 23 June her condition worsened and Mrs F went to the Emergency Department.  She was diagnosed as having suffered  a heart attack but due to late presentation, the clinicians were unable to offer any other treatment save for medication.  As a consequence, of the heart attack Mrs F had suffered a significant degree of ventricular dysfunction which left her extremely breathlessness and limited in terms of her activities and her mobility.  Her condition deteriorated and she suffered a further heart attack less than 2 years later.  She required assistance with dressing and food preparation.  She was unable to look after her home and her life expectancy was reduced.

Mrs F asked us to investigate the standard of treatment she had received.  With the help of specialist medical experts in the fields of Nursing and Cardiology, we established that Mrs F should have been sent to hospital by the Nurse Practitioner as she was going through the initial presentation of an acute coronary syndrome.  She would have been placed on an acute coronary syndrome pathway to carry out coronary angiography and stenting and on the balance of probabilities, she would have avoided a heart attack altogether.

We presented this case to the Defendant.  Their initial response, after 6 months, was to deny that they were responsible for the Nurse Practitioner at all.  We disagreed and persisted with the claim and prepared the necessary documents to begin formal court proceedings.  The Defendant responded to the claim with a reasoned but illogical denial of liability and before we could issue the claim at court, a settlement was reached between the parties for a five figure sum.

At Armstrong Foulkes we continue to fight claims where we have clear evidence of wrongdoing and substandard treatment.

Ashleigh Holt – September 2020