Claimant receives £10,000 after he suffered from a malfunctioning pacemaker for over two years - X v Barts & the London NHS Trust 06.04.10

On 20 July 2006, the Claimant (aged 67 years) underwent surgery at a hospital of the Defendant Trust for a bi-ventricular pacemaker to be fitted. He was advised that the surgery had been successful and the following day he was informed that the pacemaker would be checked before he was discharged from hospital. He remained in the day room from 9.00 am until 6.00 pm as instructed but he was subsequently told that the nursing staff did not have time to check the device and so he was discharged and was advised to return in one month.

The Claimant subsequently experienced shortness of breath, tiredness and generally felt unwell. In August 2006 and October 2006 he returned to the Defendant’s hospital and it was identified that the pacemaker was not functioning adequately. A scan revealed that the wire on the left side of the Claimant's heart was not working properly and he was referred back to the surgeon for further assessment. It was subsequently arranged that a lead replacement would be fitted. However, the surgery did not take place until October 2008.

The Claimant alleged negligence in (i) failing to check the pacemaker before he was discharged from hospital in July 2006 and (ii) failing to identify and/or correct the function of the pacemaker in a timely fashion. The Claimant had severe heart damage and a 10 per cent chance of death and 50 per cent of survival for five years. As a result of the negligent treatment, he had lived some of this life expectancy suffering unnecessarily.

Liability admitted. The case was settled on a global basis. The breakdown for general damages (PSLA) was estimated as £7,000.

Comment

This unfortunate case highlights the need for systems to be adopted to prevent such patients ‘slipping through the net’.