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‘Surgery left me with broken ribs… I found out two years later’

Couple ‘horrified’ to discover cause of pain from files

27 October, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Della and Jack Edwards: ‘We feel like we are not getting anywhere’

AN operation for an irregular heartbeat left an Archway man with four broken ribs – but he did not find out until two years later.

Jack Edwards, 66, was in “unbelievable” pain following surgery for heart arrhythmia at the Whittington Hospital in 2014.

After the surgery Mr Edwards suffered pneumonia, which reversed the arrhythmia procedure. A year later surgery was tried again, but Mr Edwards once again finished back in hospital with pneumonia just two days later.

A lifelong non-smoker and schoolboy champion swimmer, Mr Edwards cannot now make the 10-minute walk to Archway tube station without stopping to catch his breath.

He and his wife Della, who feel they have been left in the dark about what went wrong, say their attempts to discover more have been “stonewalled”.

Now, Mr Edwards wants answers about his care. “I’m a socialist and supporter of the NHS,” he said. “But we feel like we are not getting anywhere.”

In particular, the couple want to know why they were not told that Mr Edwards suffered four broken ribs during his first operation. They discovered this only after ploughing through his medical records earlier this year.

The notes state that Mr Edwards sustained “increased uptake in​ ​rib​ ​fractures​ ​in​ ​the​ ​anterior​ ​ends of​ ​the​ ​right​ ​5th​ ​to​ ​8th​ ​ribs,​ ​most​ ​likely​ ​related​ ​to​ ​fractures​ ​incurred​ ​during cardioversion [the heart arrhythmia operation].”

“We were horrified,” said Ms Edwards, a former local government complaints officer. “I thought: ‘Oh my God, no wonder he was in so much pain’.”

In a formal complaint, the pair said medics did not properly diagnose Mr Edwards, a retired BT engineer, or draw up an appropriate treatment plan, adding that “poor and inaccurate” record-keeping has hindered the investigation.

They were, however, full of praise for the ambulatory care service. “It probably saved his life,” Ms Edwards said.

She has now sought a second opinion at University College London Hospital. Staff there think Mr Edwards may have sarcoidosis, a rare condition which causes scarring of the lungs.

A spokesman for the Whittington Health NHS Trust said it would not be able to comment on Mr Edwards’ case due to patient confidentiality.


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