‘Experimental’ heart surgery death award

Posted: 16th November 2015

SurgeonsEveryone has the right to make an informed choice before submitting to medical treatment. In one case which strikingly proved the point, the daughter of an elderly army veteran who died after undergoing pioneering heart surgery was awarded almost £14,000 in compensation by the High Court.

The 86-year-old bled to death shortly after the keyhole operation to replace a heart valve. Although now widely used, the procedure had at the time only recently been developed and was still the subject of clinical trials. His daughter sued the surgeon who led the clinical team which carried out the operation and the NHS trust which managed the hospital where it was performed.

Her lawyers argued that the pensioner had not been properly warned about the risks of the then experimental procedure and had not been given enough information to enable him to give his properly informed consent.

The surgeon and trust, whilst not admitting liability for the man’s death, submitted to judgment. The daughter was awarded damages of £13,686 to reflect her father’s pain and suffering before he died and various expenses, including funeral costs.