Hospital admits mistakes over death of Halesowen knee replacement patient

Halesowen News: Robert Collett. Robert Collett.

A FATHER-of-three from Halesowen died from heart failure following a knee replacement operation during which doctors failed to act when he showed signs of cardiac arrest.

Robert Collett had been assessed at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital earlier the same week when an ECG showed an abnormal heart reading.

But doctors pressed ahead with the surgery under spinal anaesthetic and failed to abandon the operation when he complained of chest pains beforehand.

The 62-year-old grandfather, who worked as a part-time driver, suffered a cardiac arrest and died just hours after the operation on February 9 2011.

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has now admitted responsibility.

The trust has confirmed in writing that “had the procedure, therefore, been discontinued when the deceased first developed chest pain it is likely that the arrhythmia would have been avoided and the cardiac arrest would not have occurred.”

His widow, Angela, aged 54, who worked as a nurse at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital at the time, remains angry at receiving no apology for her “needless” loss and is not confident the same mistakes will not happen again.

Mrs Collett went to check on her husband in the theatre recovery room during her lunch break, only to find he had been transferred to City Hospital. When she arrived there she was told he had died.

An independent review carried out by The Royal College of Anaesthetists after Mr Collett’s death found a catalogue of failings, including poor leadership by the senior anaesthetist, poor pre-operative assessment, communication failures between medical teams and extremely poor record keeping.

Mrs Collett said: “Had they taken notice of his complaints of chest pain and carried out the necessary investigations he may still be here today.”

Specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who secured the family an admission of responsibility from the trust, confirmed that a compensation settlement is being negotiated.

Trust chief executive Jo Chambers has apologised to Mr Collett’s family for “their loss and the on- going distress this has caused”.

She added: “The trust has admitted liability in this case for failure to discontinue the patient’s operation when there were clear indications that this should have been considered.

“Since 2011 the trust has put in place a number of measures to make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again.”

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