Posted on 19 Jun 2018
The family of a Bayswater man, who collapsed and later died after doctors failed to test for an aneurysm – which had been causing ongoing symptoms for weeks – is still in disbelief.
Slater and Gordon lawyers believe that if appropriate testing was done at the onset of symptoms, he would still be alive today.
The 38-year-old father of two Richard Birch collapsed at his home in August 2014 after visiting two GPs in Croydon to address ongoing headaches he had suffered over the previous month.
After an initial fall on July 25, Mr Birch went to the doctor complaining of constant headaches, vomiting, photophobia (aversion to light) and nausea and was told it was due to a migraine although he had no history of migraines or even headaches.
His partner Carlie White said the symptoms continued on with no respite for weeks. Ms White said they were never really satisfied with the diagnosis.
“We really can’t understand why they didn’t do more testing or send Richard to an emergency department for tests,” Ms White said. “But we trusted them, so we kept following their advice.”
“They advised him to go home and take Panadol, but these were not your average headache symptoms.”
Over the next few weeks he re-attended the same medical clinic seeing two different doctors who chose not to send him for appropriate testing, such as a CT scan, even after the family requested this be done.
On August 19, he returned to the doctor for the sixth time and was diagnosed with hypertension. Two hours after leaving the medical centre, Mr Birch collapsed and was quickly rushed to The Alfred hospital via ambulance.
He underwent a CT spine cervical scan, which showed he was suffering from a ruptured right bifurcation aneurysm. Doctors performed a craniotomy and clipping of the right middle cerebral artery bifurcation aneurysm and removal of large right temporal intra-cerebral haemorrhage.
Unfortunately, this was not enough, with Mr Birch, who had not regained consciousness since the collapse, passing away on August 22 after several days in Intensive Care.
“I was home when he collapsed, it was awful,” Ms White said. “When the ambulance arrived, they said it was a head injury as soon as they arrived.
“Since his death it just been awful for the boys (teenage sons) and we still can’t come to terms with it. I wouldn’t wish this up my worst enemy.
“This has been something we will never get past, knowing it could have been prevented and having the boys grow up without their father during such an important part of their lives.
“If you or your loved one is not satisfied with a doctor’s diagnosis you needed to get a second or even third opinion until you are satisfied.
“Our family has unfortunately lost all trust in the very doctors that are there to help us. Even though there are some good doctors out there, we find it hard to trust any of them and always second guess every diagnosis.”
Senior Slater and Gordon Lawyer Anne Shortall said that had the GPs referred Mr Birch to a hospital for tests, including a CT angiogram, the aneurysm would have been diagnosed and treated.
“Richard would not have died if these tests had been conducted and his family would not have had to endure such tragic circumstances,” Ms Shortall said.