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Aortic dissection – a medical emergency usually deadly when missed | Medical Negligence and Private Harm Weblog | Kingsley Napley

We’re at the moment engaged on claims for failures within the remedy of aortic dissection and right here we focus on what the situation entails and why authorized circumstances for medical negligence come up.    

What’s an aortic dissection?

The aorta is the principle artery which carries oxygenated blood away from the center to the remainder of the physique. It’s a muscular tube that has three layers of tissue. An aortic dissection happens when the interior layer of this artery tears, inflicting blood to leak, resulting in the interior and center layers separating. If the outer wall is ruptured then the situation is commonly deadly.

What are the signs?

Signs of aortic dissection embody a sudden and extreme ache throughout the chest, which may additionally radiate to the again, shortness of breath and feeling faint, together with ache within the jaw, face or stomach. The ache can disappear after which recur. Blood checks could be regular as can an electrocardiogram (ECG). A definitive prognosis requires particular imaging methods, normally a CT aortogram (CTA).

What causes it?

Hypertension can weaken the wall of the aorta over time in order that it’s extra vulnerable to ripping. If an individual suffers an aortic aneurysm (a swelling or bulging within the aorta), this could make dissection extra possible. There are different situations which trigger the aorta wall to weaken, together with Turner syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan Syndrome.

What are the various kinds of aortic dissection?

There are two sorts of aortic dissection, Kind A and Kind B. Kind A is a tear within the higher aorta (often called the ascending aorta) and normally requires surgical procedure. Kind B is a tear within the decrease aorta. Kind B tears can carry decrease dangers and will not require surgical procedure.

Fast measures to regulate blood strain and coronary heart price in sufferers recognized with an aortic dissection are beneficial.

Is there a authorized declare?

Sadly, aortic dissection is a situation which, if misdiagnosed, can have devastating penalties.

The Healthcare Security Investigation Department (HSIB), an organisation devoted to enhancing affected person security within the NHS, printed a report in 2020 referred to as ‘Delayed Recognition of Acute Aortic Dissection’. This highlighted that employees in non-specialist hospitals could also be unfamiliar with the situation and its presentation since acute aortic dissection is a uncommon explanation for chest ache, significantly when in comparison with a coronary heart assault (acute myocardial infarction), and signs can range or be complicated.

The HSIB discovered {that a} delay in prognosis happens in round 16 to 40 p.c of circumstances and is extra possible if the affected person walks into the hospital or the place a cardiac trigger for the chest ache (reminiscent of a coronary heart assault) is initially suspected.

If there was a misdiagnosis of an aortic dissection, or different delay in remedy, then there could also be a declare for medical negligence. Many claims are towards Accident and Emergency Departments which fail to appropriately diagnose the signs of aortic dissection.

How we can assist

We’re capable of present specialist recommendation in relation to some of these scientific negligence claims and work carefully with emergency medication and cardiology consultants to think about the accidents sustained and whether or not they would have been averted. We perceive how traumatic a missed aortic dissection prognosis could be and supply our purchasers and their households with a supportive and delicate service, making every step of the authorized course of as clear and straightforward as attainable. We concentrate on lowering the stress our purchasers are struggling and the place attainable and related, we glance to safe funds for early rehabilitation. The quantity of compensation accessible will rely on the extent of any accidents however will normally embody sums for ache and struggling, future care, remedy and therapies together with sums to cowl monetary losses together with misplaced earnings. The place an individual has sadly died, an award can embody sums for a lack of dependency each financially and emotionally.

Elevating consciousness

In November 2021 the Royal Faculty of Emergency Drugs and The Royal Faculty of Radiologists printed finest follow pointers – ‘Prognosis of Thoracic Aortic Dissection within the Emergency Division’. These embody a suggestion that every one clinicians working in emergency departments needs to be made conscious of the difficulties surrounding the prognosis. The rules additionally clarify that it’s the position of the emergency division to request a scan and act on the outcome. This accountability shouldn’t be handed onto one other scientific staff.  We hope that consciousness of this uncommon however essential situation continues to be raised.


If you want any additional data or recommendation concerning the matter mentioned on this weblog, please contact Laura SylvesterRebecca Linnell or our Medical Negligence and Private Harm staff.



Laura Sylvester is a Associate within the Medical Negligence Division. She has a broad vary of experience, with specific concentrate on mind harm claims regarding youngsters with cerebral palsy. Laura additionally has a particular curiosity in colorectal/belly and gynaecology claims. She has additionally developed a specialism in late prognosis of an infection circumstances and deadly claims and has an energetic caseload together with circumstances of this nature. 

Rebecca Linnell is an Affiliate within the Medical Negligence Division who acts for a variety of purchasers coping with each medical negligence and private harm claims. Rebecca assists the Companions within the Division with complicated claims together with negligence regarding spinal accidents, start accidents, obstetric accidents, ophthalmic accidents and circumstances the place there was a fatality. She additionally has expertise in coping with points surrounding affected person consent and delays in prognosis. Rebecca moreover assists purchasers who’ve sustained catastrophic accidents from highway site visitors accidents.



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