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Court win after life-threatening misdiagnosis

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A Willetton man who suffered life-threatening health complications after a hospital failed to properly treat his abdominal sepsis has won his bid for compensation in the District Court of Western Australia. 

Darren Westcott took legal action against the Minister for Health after Fremantle Hospital took three days to treat his appendicitis, a relatively common condition.

The delay caused him significant health complications including respiratory failure, a deep wound infection, an incisional hernia and a pulmonary embolism.

While the incident happened in 2009, Mr Westcott had to endure several hospital admissions for many years to follow. His long and complicated recovery has left him with ongoing physical and psychological injuries affecting his ability to run the family business with his wife, Tanya.

Slater and Gordon medical lawyer, Karina Hafford said Mr Westcott suffered considerable health problems and she was pleased he would be compensated for his medical expenses and lost earnings.

“Fremantle Hospital had a duty of reasonable care to properly monitor and investigate Mr Westcott’s symptoms and correctly diagnose his medical condition,” she said.

“But the hospital failed to treat him properly – even when his health deteriorated – which can only be described as negligent and well-short of what was reasonable."

“He should’ve had an urgent laparoscopy as soon as he was diagnosed with appendicitis but there was an unnecessary delay in operating for several days”.

Mr Westcott said his life had been turned up-side-down since the incident six-years ago and he welcomed the court decision.

“I went to a doctor with lower abdominal pain and the doctor made a possible diagnosis of diverticular disease. I was given antibiotics and pain medication, and sent home,” he said.

“But I just felt worse and worse, so my wife called an ambulance taking me to hospital.

“They took heaps of tests over the next few days but I just kept getting worse. Then all of a sudden I’m being rushed into surgery and I don’t remember much else at that point.

“Had they treated it earlier, I could have had the surgery and recovered in a week or two and been back at work. But it’s been such a hard road and now it looks like I won’t be able to work again.

“I’m glad that the case is over, and Tanya and I can now put this whole ordeal behind us and focus on my recovery.”