Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection

I am about to describe a series of events which result in a tragic misdiagnosis of my wife’s condition, resulting in her death.

On the evening of Tuesday February 13th 2007 my wife collapsed on the stairs with a severe pain in one of her legs. At the time she was talking to her friend on the telephone whilst sitting on the stairs.

I heard her moans from the kitchen and found her in extreme agony, deathly white and sweating profusely.

I helped her to the living room and called for an ambulance. Within a short period of time both paramedic and ambulance personnel were with us.
They spent some time trying to assess the situation and trying to stabilise my wife. She was given morphine for the pain in her leg.

After some considerable time she was taken to the Queen Alexandra hospital. Unfortunately it was during the rush hour period and it took forever. Whoever is making the crass decision about the closure of the Haslar hospital should sit in an ambulance with their wife in a seemingly critical condition making their way to QA in the rush hour from Stubbington.

Once arrived at QA there is a queue in the corridor and all the ambulance personnel waiting with their patients are openly scathing about the queuing and the Haslar situation.

Eventually my wife was taken to a cubicle to be seen by a doctor. At this time my wife not only had a pain in her leg but also in her abdomen and lower back. She also mentioned a sore throat. The doctor gave her an examination and asked various questions. She seemed to be considering that there may have been a stroke and asked if there was any family history. I replied by saying that the only family history was the death of her father at an early age with a ‘torn’ aorta (not knowing the technical term at this time).

Ultimately the doctor stated that she thought my wife had had a TIA and that she could go home and for her GP to follow up the TIA. My family and I were somewhat taken aback that she was not to be kept in for observation.

That night my wife was in considerable discomfort with pain in her abdomen, back and leg. She also had what seemed to be a sore throat.

Coincidentally my wife had an appointment with our GP the next day and I took her with my daughter to see the doctor. She had to be helped into the doctor’s room by both my daughter and myself as she was still having a problem with her leg. Her GP was somewhat surprised to see my wife in such a state as he thought she was there for a routine appointment about her cholesterol. He gave her a long examination and stated that she had not had a TIA and probably had a virus as she had been sick overnight.

We took my wife home and she went to bed as she felt so unwell. The following day (15th) she still felt unwell and I believe it was on this day that she stated the pain in her abdomen was worse than having a baby and I telephoned the doctor and he prescribed soluble paracetamol. He also asked for a water sample to be taken, the results of which have never been notified to me.

My wife continued to be unwell with the pains in her abdomen and back but we assumed this was due to the virus.

For several nights I slept in one bedroom and my wife in another as she didn’t want to disturb me as she was restless.

On the morning of the 17th I went in to see my wife and she had passed away.

That morning I had to have a doctor for me as I was having chest pains and I have a coronary problem. Before seeing to me the doctor asked me about what had happened with my wife and he stated that she should have been kept in hospital.

Incidentally, I had quite a problem getting a doctor to come out to me as it was a Saturday morning. For some reason a very unsympathetic doctor expected me to go to him. My wife was dead in bed and I was expected to go to the doctor. What sort of service is being provided now out of hours?

The autopsy revealed that my wife had died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. This is exactly the same condition that her father died of when he was 46. My wife was 58. I had in fact told the A&E doctor what my wife was dying of.

My GP has talked me through the coroner’s report and during the conversation he stated that my wife should have been kept in hospital for observation. This was based on the knowledge that I had given the family history of a dissecting aortic aneurysm to the doctor at QA, this information my GP had not been privy to before.

My family and I are obviously distraught. We are very disturbed that there has been a serious misdiagnosis of my wife’s condition and that the ‘key’ information that I provided along with the abdominal, lower back and throat pain symptoms were ignored.

Yesteryear my wife would have certainly been taken in for observation. Today there clearly is pressure for beds and turnaround of cases. Also these days one will probably be unlucky and be seen by an inexperienced junior doctor who will make the life and death decision.

Had my wife been taken in for observation as 2 GPs have said she should have been, had the key information been analysed correctly, my wife would have had a significant chance of survival. In sending her home a very short period of time after being admitted to A&E she had NO chance.

In my opinion this is as serious as it gets. Misdiagnosis resulting in death.

Why was she sent home to die? This would surely not have happened had she been taken to the Haslar hospital.

Why was she not given the appropriate level of care and attention at QA that her very serious condition warranted?

What is abundantly clear is that the ‘Super Hospital’ strategy is failing families such as mine.
Someone out there has not done their homework properly. It is obvious that there will be a queuing problem and there will be an infrastructure problem. There clearly won’t be enough ‘Super doctors’ to meet the demand and these will be supplemented by inexperienced doctors.

It remains to say that I have lost a lovely wife, my children and my grandson have lost a wonderful mother and nanny. This should have been prevented but the NHS system failed us.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Some time has passed now.

I have been on local BBC television to try and make viewers and the medical profession aware that there is a need to understand the symptoms of this silent ‘time bomb’.

My children and I have been through the NHS Complaints Process and the Litigation Process. The conclusions of both processes are that the assessment and standard of care provided was below an acceptable standard.

My wife’s condition should have been diagnosed and had it been diagnosed she would have had an 85% chance of surviving.

Medical training at the hospital now includes my wife’s case.

As the condition can be genetically linked my children are now scanned for the condition. In the future so will any of their children. This condition can be present in people of any age.

I now have a granddaughter named Olivia Ann and I am sure that my Ann will be looking down on her and looking after her.


Martin Skelton
24 Rectory Close, Stubbington, Hants PO14 2NA
01329 664878
07814344308
martin_j_skelton@yahoo.com

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Comment by Jeff Frank on December 31, 2012 at 7:47

Hi Martin -

I just read your tragic story.   I am very sorry that you and your family have had to cope with this. 

Your efforts to raise awareness are very important and certainly serve to honor your good wife's memory.

 

All the best to you -

 

Jeff

 

 

Comment by Martin Skelton on March 26, 2010 at 15:28
Hello, Thanks for the condolences. My children had chest Xrays and ultrasound scans. Martin
Comment by littlejena on March 26, 2010 at 7:59
My 24 year old brother was misdiagnosed in 2000 similarly to your wife. he was sent home without a ct scan and died that evening of an aortic dissection. (in Windsor, ON, Canada) I have had ultrasounds of my heart and aorta and yearly ekg's. What type of scans have your children received? I have a 2 yr old and a new baby on the way. I want them checked as well. Thanks for the info, and please accept my condolences.
Comment by jo Baggott on December 8, 2009 at 9:33
I was so sorry to hear of the death of your wife. My brother was treated for a DVT when in fact he had a Dissected aortic aneurysm. He was given clexane injections which caused him to bleed more. The staff at the hospital did not diagnose him correctly and he died. My brother had been a referee at a football match two days before he died and actually collapsed at the gym with a pain in his leg. My brother was a very fit guy and if he had been diagnosed correctly could have stood a chance of surviving surgery I am in the middle of questioning his treatment by the hospital.
Comment by Helen Margaret Smith on October 24, 2009 at 0:05
Hi martin... so sorry to hear bout ur wifes death. This is one big time bomb that will continue to be a bug bear and leaves behind terrible carnage in an emotional sense for you and your family...I just want to give you my condolences and support...My two children are of 22 and 24 n they have been screened....this is one of the best things you can do for your family....and to not be kept in ignorance of this dangerous condition... people we have been close to never leave us.... we make sure they dont...All the best to you n your family....
Comment by Graeme on October 23, 2009 at 15:42
Martin,

Again my most heartfelt sympathy for your tragic loss. As I said in my email to you it makes me so angry that this happened and is still happeing - another case last month in Nottingham made the papers recently. I know Ann is still with you though - and will be always..

Anything I or anyone on this group can do for you or Ann please do not hesitate to ask. I have asked the UK National Heart Foundation for some sort of link in and support of this site but I am not holding my breath..it seems that AD is not recognised as a heart condition...(!!) However - our aim is to publicise this horrific condition/disease to all - both the public and the medical profession - and I have only just started and I am a VERY persistant person!!
Warmest regards
Graeme Archer

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