Family wins damages from ‘negligent’ GP after fatal heart attack

The surgery in Fort William. Picture: Google
The surgery in Fort William. Picture: Google
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The family of a man who died from a heart attack have been awarded damages from a “negligent” doctor who failed to diagnose his health problems properly.

Relatives of William Brown sued Dr Alison Smith and her fellow GPs at the Craig Nevis Surgery in Fort William after he died aged 67 on 6 January 2011.

His wife Euphemia, 70, of Caol, Lochaber, his children and his brother and sister instructed lawyers to go to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

They claimed that Dr Smith failed to diagnose that Mr Brown was suffering from unstable angina when he attended at her practice on 31 December 2010.

The family also claims that Dr Smith also failed to refer Mr Brown to hospital on 31 December 2010 and failed to prescribe drugs which would have helped his condition. Mr Brown’s relatives also claimed that it was cold on the day Mr Brown suffered his heart attack and that this weather could have triggered the cardiac arrest.

In a written judgement, which was issued yesterday, judge Lord Armstrong ruled in favour of the family.

Lord Armstrong concluded that Dr Smith failed to act properly in her dealings with Mr Brown. The sum awarded to has not been disclosed.

However, the judgement tells of how Mr Brown had previously enjoyed good health who enjoyed playing golf and cycling.

On 29 December 2010, Mr Brown, who had not previously suffered from chest pain, became unwell after walking up and down stairs.

He visited Dr Smith that day and she arranged for him to have an ECG test after checking his blood pressure and pulse.

The judgment tells of how the following day, Mr Brown once again suffered pain after going out for a walk. He only got as far as his garden gate.

On 31 December 2010, Mr Brown once again suffered chest pain and his wife arranged an emergency appointment with Dr Smith.

Mr Brown then attended Dr Smith again on 5 January 2011 and once again complained of chest pain.

But Dr Smith failed to refer Mr Brown to hospital.

Lord Armstrong wrote that he considered evidence from medical experts and had concluded that Dr Smith had failed to follow medical guidelines.

He wrote: “If, on Friday December 31 2010, Dr Smith had prescribed beta blockers or an appropriate alternative, the deceased would have had the benefit of their anti ischaemic effect.”