Inquest into death of man who died from a pulmonary embolism

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Julie Crossley, an associate in the medical negligence team at Ashtons Legal, recently attended the inquest into the death of Mr F, a man who died from a pulmonary embolism following a varicose vein procedure.

During the inquest there was no criticism of the surgery which was minimally invasive and carried out under a local anaesthetic. After the procedure Mr F was given compression stockings which are specially designed to steadily squeeze your legs to improve circulation and help prevent blood clots from forming. He was also given a single 40mg dose of a blood thinning medication and was discharged.

12 days later he began to experience shortness of breath. He called 111 and was advised to attend A&E if he was concerned or he could “see how it goes”. He stayed at home but the next day suffered a cardiac arrest and sadly died upon admission to hospital. The post mortem found the cause of death to be a “massive PE”.

A pulmonary embolism is a blocked blood vessel in the lungs which if not treated quickly can be fatal. When left untreated, the mortality rate is up to 30% but when treated early, the mortality rate is around 8%. There are numerous warning signs including shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing up blood, leg pain or swelling, back pain, sweating, dizziness, blueish lips or nails.

During the inquest there was extensive discussion about the compression stockings given to Mr F as he had complained that they were falling down. There was also consideration about whether he should have received more than a single dose of blood thinning medication.

The main issue later became whether or not Mr F should have been told to attend A&E and if so whether this would have prevented his death. There were differing views on this during the inquest and the coroner has therefore called for an independent report on the matter.

Julie Crossley comments: “This is a very sad case which is hugely important to Mr F’s family and at the time of writing is ongoing. It has been made clear that consideration must be given to the patients risk factors, and in Mr F’s case he had at least six, and whether the after care and advice given to him was appropriate.” 


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