Glasgow & West Scotland

Sheriff rules pregnant woman Caroline McCall should have seen consultant

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Media captionCaroline McCall was eight months pregnant when she died after being admitted to hospital with chest pains

A sheriff has ruled the death of a pregnant woman might have been avoided if she had been seen by a consultant after she was admitted to hospital with chest pains.

Following a fatal accident inquiry, the sheriff said 38-year-old Caroline McCall received "substandard care".

Ms McCall died at the Princess Royal Maternity in Glasgow in November 2008.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it would examine the sheriff's determination in detail.

Ms McCall had been eight months pregnant when she felt a stabbing pain in her chest, which she thought was a heart attack.

She was taken to the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow, where she died 41 hours later.

During her time in hospital Ms McCall was seen by a number of doctors and medical professionals but she never saw a consultant, which Sheriff Daniel Scullion said amounted to substandard treatment.

His determination said her death might have been avoided if she had been seen by a consultant obstetrician at her admission, during the morning round the next day or on her admission to the High Dependency Unit on the evening of the second day.

The sheriff also determined that the inclusion of a cardiac cause in the differential diagnosis made of her illness could have prevented her death.

Image caption Alan Muir said Caroline McCall told him no-one at the hospital was listening to her

There is now a guideline that a consultant should see a new patient within 12 hours of admission.

A report into the death said the consultant was not informed of Ms McCall's admission and should have been.

An expert told the fatal accident inquiry that if she had been diagnosed on arrival with the heart condition from which she was suffering, she would have had an 80% chance of survival.

Her daughter Grace, who was born by emergency Caesarean section 45 minutes before her mother died, is now five years old.

Ms McCall's partner Alan Muir, who is pursuing a civil court case against the health board, told BBC Scotland that no-one was listening to Ms McCall.

He said that the doctors had originally insisted she had heartburn and gave her Gaviscon.

Mr Muir said: "The crux of the problem is she never saw anyone senior.

"She had an aortic dissection, that was what killed her. It is a rare condition and a junior doctor does not have the experience to recognise things like that.

"A senior doctor or consultant would have the experience - not necessarily to diagnose it - but to think it could be that."

A statement from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde would like to reiterate its deepest condolences to this patient's family for their loss.

"We have only just received the sheriff's determination. We will examine the determination in detail including any recommendations."