A north-east woman who died in hospital after she fell ill due to a heart infection could have been diagnosed earlier, a watchdog has ruled.
The Scottish Public Service Ombudsman investigated after the woman’s widower made a formal complaint to the GP surgery about events leading up to her death.
Now the SPSO has concluded the surgery could have diagnosed her condition earlier – and also handled her husband’s complaint unreasonably.
Neither the woman involved or the GP surgery have been identified in the report.
According to the report, the man complained to the SPSO that the case and treatment the GP practice had given to his late wife had been “unreasonable”.
The report added: “The woman had a history of rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disorder that mainly affects the flexible joints.
“Her health began to deteriorate further, but her husband said it took time to establish she had heart problems for which she needed an operation.
“After surgery, the woman was discharged home, but months later she required to be admitted to hospital again.
“The woman had developed a serious infection in her heart and died shortly afterwards.
“Her husband complained it took too long to diagnose his wife’s infection.”
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While probing the case, the SPSO took independent advice from a GP.
The report added: “After her operation and return home, the woman became increasingly unwell and was regularly seen by members of the GP practice, who treated her for a urinary tract infection.
“However, we found that the severe heart infection – endocarditis – had not been considered as a possible diagnosis, as it should have been, particularly as it was known that the woman had an artificial heart valve and persistent signs of infection.
“Her pre-existing heart condition could have predisposed the woman to developing endocarditis and it was unreasonable not to consider this.
“This led to a delay in diagnosis and admitting the woman to hospital.”
The SPSO has recommended the GP surgery apologise to the woman’s husband for failing to properly consider her presenting symptoms and for failing to discount she had endocarditis.