Husband died at Northampton General Hospital after delays in blood vessel surgery

Susan and Bryan with grandchildren Connie and Finley.
Susan and Bryan with grandchildren Connie and Finley.
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A Northamptonshire woman wants to highlight the signs of her husband's fatal condition to stop others suffering the same fate.

Bryan McKim, 65, underwent successful surgery on a swelling of the aorta in 2012, but was taken unwell again in February, 2013 after bringing up blood.

Mr McKim was rushed to Kettering General Hospital on February 7, 2013 for diagnosis and but was referred immediately to vascular specialists at Northampton General Hospital (NGH) for urgent surgery. However, despite KGH's assessment, the operation never happened and Mr McKim died the following morning after a “catalogue of errors.”

Upon arrival at NGH, Mr McKim was made to wait in A&E and was left untreated on a general ward when, a report later found, he should have been put on a vascular ward.

A CT scan was also carried out that showed anomalies that would have led to the correct diagnosis of an aortic fistula caused by an infection, but Sarah Harper, specialist Clinical Negligence Adviser at Access Legal - part of Shoosmiths solicitors - says it was missed by doctors.

She said: "Nothing was done to treat Bryan with any immediacy and he was left overnight on a general ward and in the early morning of the next day, he was doubled up in serious pain and given paracetamol.

"He then collapsed with a further more serious bleed and had a cardiac arrest. He was taken to theatre for emergency surgery but it was too late to save him."

Mr McKim died on February 8, 2013 following significant blood loss into the intestines caused by an aortic fistula, which an investigation found could have been prevented if he had been operated as an emergency the previous day.

It was later established that the initial bleed suffered by Mr Mckim is classed as a “Herald Bleed” - a warning that a further catastrophic bleed is imminent. Kettering General Hospital recognised this warning but Northampton General Hospital failed to take action and recognise it’s significance.

In an open meeting in July 2013 with Mrs McKim and her family, NGH admitted errors in Mr McKim’s care and the family turned to Sarah Harper, who brought the claim on behalf of Mr McKim, of Corby. They were successful not only in obtaining an admission of liability and compensation from the trust but also an apology for his wife, Susan.

Sarah Harper said: "We found answers along the way for Mrs Mckim as to what precisely occurred and obtained medical evidence, which showed that had surgery been carried out on the same day as admission then Mr Mckim’s death would have been prevented."

Mrs McKim, who was married to her husband for 40 years, added: "When I came out of that bubble of grief I realised that things weren't right, but it took me a long time. It appears to me now, that there are lots of unexpected deaths that are not being investigated across the country. It's so wrong, Doctors have a duty of care, I feel, to the relatives and the bereaved - and to patients - to have these cases investigated properly.

Mrs McKim said she has fantastic memories of her husband.

She said: “He could make anything. The kids, when they were little, had motorbikes and go karts which were made from scratch. He would source the engine, build the frames and put them together- he was an engineer.

“He was a totally crazy, fun guy. His theory in life was 'grow up and you grow old', and the grandchildren coming along was an excuse for him not to grow up. He would do anything for a dare or for charity.

“He was very, very active person - if there was a period where we weren't doing anything, he would say, "right girl, we need a project." He could turn his hand to anything. The kids spent years learning to ride horses and he just got on with it.

"I want to stress that I couldn't have done this without Access Legal. It has been difficult to cut off emotions from the facts, but that is what Sarah does, she has been out to the house and helped me immensely."

A spokeswoman for Northampton General Hospital said: “We would like to once again express our sincere apologies and heartfelt condolences for the circumstances that led to Mr McKim’s death.

“As a result of this incident, lessons have been learned and actions taken within the organisation to ensure the ongoing safety of our patients and that we deliver best possible care.”