Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has made a five-figure payout to the family of a man who died amid claims junior doctors made a series of errors during his treatment on a weekend.
The family of Peter Eustace, 57, of Pontefract, has demanded urgent action to tackle nationally high weekend death rate figures to prevent further ‘unnecessary’ deaths.
Father-of-two Mr Eustace died in October 2010 after junior doctors at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, on a Sunday failed to realise he was bleeding internally.
He was instead diagnosed as suffering from either a blood clot or infection. Mr Eustace’s chest drain had earlier been removed and his family’s lawyers argued he should have had a blood transfusion, his lung drained and, if the bleeding did not stop, been returned to theatre. Devastated widow Alyson instructed Anna Bosley, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, to investigate whether more could have been done to prevent his death, and has secured the family a five-figure settlement from the trust. Ms Bosley said: “This case is yet another example of a patient losing his life because he was unlucky enough to suffer an injury at midnight on a Sunday, when staffing levels in hospitals are too low and inexperienced junior doctors are covering a wide range of wards without the support they need to treat specialist patients.”
His widow Alyson said they remain “appalled” at Mr Eustace’s treatment. “It is still very difficult to come to terms with the fact that if the chest drain had been removed on a week day and he experienced those problems, it’s highly likely he would still be alive today. The whole family cannot understand why more is not being done to tackle weekend death rates.”
A coroner recorded a narrative verdict at Mr Eustace’s inquest in 2011, stating the post mortem found it likely the bleeding was caused by the drain’s removal but indicated the extent of Mr Eustace’s condition had a role to play. A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said: “It is not our policy to comment in detail on individual cases, but records show that Mr Eustace was seen twice by the surgical registrar on the day he sadly died and that 24/7 on-call consultant cover was in place to attend if required.
“We do, of course, have every sympathy for Mr Eustace’s family and extend our sincere condolences for their loss. If they have any unresolved concerns we would be happy to speak to them directly.”
He added that ensuring appropriate care for patients seven days a week was a top priority and statistics show mortality rates at the weekend are comparable to weekdays. The hospitals trust is one of the leading in the country for lower-than-expected mortality rates,” he added.