Hospital payout for heart op horror

PUBLISHED: 14:28 21 October 2011

St Georges GP surgery practice manager Steve Edwards

St Georges GP surgery practice manager Steve Edwards


A DAD who lay awake through a botched operation has accepted 'significant' compensation, after the wrong side of his heart was removed and he was condemned to life with a pacemaker.

Steve Edwards had the muscle on the right side of his heart burnt away, rather than on the left side where it should have been.

The 51-year-old, who is practice manager for Worle and St Georges GP surgeries, says he was ‘terrified’ when he heard the commotion during the operation, performed under local anaesthetic.

He had gone into the Bristol Royal Infirmary for the third operation to try and regularise his heartbeat, but ended up coming out with a pacemaker.

Mr Edwards said doctors shook him to wake him fully and told him they would need to fit the instrument mid-way through the procedure, but it was some weeks later that he found out the extent of what had happened.

The dangerous mistake was made during the procedure in April 2008, but after initially denying errors were made, hospital chiefs have apologised to the Kewstoke father-of-two and given him a large, unspecified sum of money out of court.

Mr Edwards said: “This was a serious matter and very traumatic.”

“Every seven years I will need to be opened up so that the batteries can be replaced in my pacemaker and I may have to have a new one in time.

“Both of these things pose risks as I get older.

“This whole thing affected my self-esteem and traumatised me.

“I would wake up with nightmares, thinking that a little machine is keeping my heart going.

“This was not a matter of blame but of making sure someone took responsibility for this and apologised for what happened.

“It’s shocking that a mistake like this can be made.”

In a letter sent to Mr Edwards, University Hospitals Bristol chief executive, Robert Woolley, admitted the operation had been carried out on the wrong side of the patient’s heart.

He said: “I understand the trust has obtained information that indicates this occurred due to technical errors during the procedure.

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to you for this error occurring.”

The hospital says a piece of equipment slipped during the procedure, causing the radio frequency to be delivered to the wrong side of the heart.

It says as a result of the error, there are now further checks made to make sure the equipment is correctly placed during such procedures.

Mr Edwards was represented legally by Daniel Isaac of Pardoes Solicitors in Bridgwater.

He said: “It is frustrating that the trust did not accept fault earlier.

“Sadly this is something that I all too often see in medical negligence claims and it only serves to delay settlement, unnecessarily increase legal costs and reduce patients’ trust in the NHS.”

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