Barrister: Tom Leeper
Area of Law: Clinical negligence
Summary: Tom was instructed by Claire Stoneman and Nicola Rawlinson-Weller of Foot Anstey LLP in a claim arising out of the tragic death caused by arrhythmic sudden cardiac death attributable to atherosclerotic coronary disease. In the preceding weeks, the Deceased had been on standard treatment for acute coronary syndrome following a suspected heart attack; the treatment included the regular administration of Clopidrogel, Bisoprolol (a beta-blocker), Ramipril and Simvastatin. Following the development of a generalised fine macular rash, his General Practitioner discontinued these drugs, without seeking input from a cardiologist. A week later the deceased was dead. An action was brought against the Defendant alleging negligence in discontinuing the drugs and failing to seek advice from a cardiologist who would have advised the continuation of Bisoprolol. While it was not possible to show that the Deceased would have survived in the absence of the Defendant’s negligence, the claim was advanced on the basis that stopping the Bisoprolol materially contributed to his death.
The claim has concluded with a significant out of court settlement. The case is a good example of the flexibility of the causation doctrine of “material contribution”, illustrated in the reported case of Bailey v Ministry of Defence  EWCA Civ 883, which can, in appropriate circumstances, be used to advance claims which do not satisfy the “but for” rule of causation. The case is reported in Lawtel Document No. AM0202945.