April 19, 2022 11.28 am This story is over 25 months old

Failures at Grimsby hospital resulted in avoidable death, family agree settlement

He died the day after being discharged

By Local Democracy Reporter

An NHS trust in Northern Lincolnshire has paid undisclosed compensation to a family after admitting that substandard care was given to a man who died the day after being discharged from hospital with a failed diagnosis.

David Cove attended his GP surgery in June 2017, following complaints of having difficulty breathing for over a week and coughing up flecks of blood.

His GP performed an electrocardiogram which showed atrial flutter, and he attempted to refer Mr Cove to the on-call physicians for emergency admission at the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.

However, the GP was unable to make contact with the hospital after being on hold for more than 30 minutes. This resulted in Mr Cove being sent to the A&E department for emergency admission with a referral letter for the medical team via ambulance.

When Mr Cove arrived at the hospital the medical team were not aware, instead moving him to A&E and offering low levels of observation.

Another electrocardiogram was arranged and showed sinus tachycardia, along with widespread T wave inversion. They were abnormal results and a locum doctor reviewed an incomplete history of Mr Cove’s medical records.

Specifically, there was a failure to note that Mr Cove had haemotysis, and a diagnosis of viral or infective exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease was made.

A chest X-ray was then completed and further observations continued to show abnormal findings. Despite this, Mr Cove was discharged home with just antibiotics.

The next day, he made further complaints of his breathing to his wife, who had gone to get his inhaler. Upon returning to the room, she saw her husband lying on the floor so she called an ambulance, but he was sadly pronounced dead when paramedics turned up.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, conducted an internal investigation into the root causes of this incident – and a coroner’s inquest found that Mr Cove’s death was brought on by a large bilateral pulmonary embolism, and cardiomyopathy.

Devastated and frustrated by the situation, Mr Cove’s family contacted law firm Hodge Jones & Allen to assist them, in a bid to identify the shortcomings of the trust that resulted in the death of David Cove.

The family were represented by specialist medical negligence solicitor Sonia Rani, and it was found that there was a failure to consider Mr Cove’s condition with a pulmonary embolism.

Had this been recognised and treated, Mr Cove could have received treatment that would have avoided this fatality, and he would more than likely still be alive today.

A settlement was agreed between the family and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the figure of which is unknown. The Lincolnite has contacted Hodge Jones & Allen to find out more.

Dean Cove, David Cove’s son, said: “It is heart-breaking to know that my father’s death could have been avoided had his healthcare been provided with greater attention and detail. I miss my father greatly, he was taken from us far too soon, and no settlement can bring him back.

“However, I hope that this settlement will encourage the NHS to put in place better procedures for the continuity of care. I hope lessons are swiftly learnt so no other family has to suffer due to these types of failings by medical professionals. I am thankful to Sonia at Hodge Jones & Allen for her support and understanding throughout my case.”

Sonia Rani, Solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen said: “In this sad case there was a clear failure to obtain the deceased’s proper medical history in A&E, which unfortunately led to the failure to diagnose a pulmonary embolism.

“We must continue to hold our health providers to higher standards and work to prevent such tragedies. If handled differently, staff at Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby could have avoided Mr Cove’s premature death.

“We are glad that we were able to work in collaboration with the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to secure a settlement for Mr Cove’s family which recognises the impact of his death. However, no amount of compensation can make up for the tragedy of his death.

“Lessons must be learnt, vital information must be shared between clinicians to avoid, potentially, easily preventable deaths in the future.”