Advising with empathy and experience

Death due to negligent thyrotoxicosis treatment.

A woman has received £50,000 in damages after her mother died when medics wrongly sent her home from hospital.

Shawna Gordon, then 20, developed post-traumatic stress disorder after watching her mother, 37, die.

Harmony Tucker was admitted to Birmingham City hospital in June 2012 suffering from severe tiredness and breathlessness.

She was diagnosed with the life-threatening condition thyrotoxicosis, which is caused by an excessive amount of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream and can cause heart problems if left untreated.

Doctors did not carry out tests that would have shown she was critically ill and she subsequently collapsed and died after being sent home with medication.

The hospital has paid Ms Gordon and her grandmother, Yvonne, £50,000 in an out-of-court settlement concerning their claim for the psychological damage and trauma they suffered as a result of witnessing Mrs Tucker’s death.

The pair also received an undisclosed five-figure sum for the hospital’s negligence in the treatment of Mrs Tucker, a mental health nurse.

Ms Gordon, now 26, and a sports physiotherapist, said: “I know it’s very unusual but it was a horrific experience and it scarred us both dreadfully. Mum was in a dreadful state. Grandma and I couldn’t believe she’d been discharged given how unwell she was.

“When she started coughing we were totally traumatised. We tried to help her but we knew instinctively she was dying.

“Then the blood started frothing from mum’s eyes and nose as well as her mouth. It was horrifying and all we could do was watch. My grandma was cradling mum’s head in her hands and watching the daughter she’d given birth to die in front of her. I will never forget it.”

After Mrs Tucker was initially discharged she was rushed back to hospital days later after suffering shooting pains in her right arm and chest.

A consultant endocrinologist ordered an x-ray and a change in medication but she was sent home again the following day without undergoing the x-ray or a further review from the endocrinology team.

Later that evening her condition deteriorated and she collapsed in the early hours of the next morning,  with blood foaming from her mouth, nose and eyes.

Ms Gordon and her grandmother called an ambulance. A paramedic attempted to treat her before she was taken to hospital and pronounced dead a short time later.

Ms Gordon, who had just returned home to Aston, Birmingham after completing her first year at university, said: “I get flashbacks and nightmares. The events of that day will stay with Grandma and me for ever.”

The hospital conceded that the decision to discharge Mrs Tucker without having performing a physical examination or chest x-ray fell below an acceptable standard of care. It refused to admit liability in causing psychological damage but settled the claim out of court.