A grandmother who died from a massive brain haemorrhage could have been saved, were it not for a catalogue of errors from two of the region's biggest hospitals. Christine Smith from Braunton had symptoms which should have alerted doctors.
But Derriford in Plymouth and North Devon District in Barnstaple both failed to spot the seriousness of her condition. She died three days before a scheduled hospital appointment.
I absolutely understand how devastating this must have been for the family and would like to apologise once more for the failure to diagnose in this very sad case.We took this incident very seriously and carried out a full internal investigation, sharing the outcome face-to-face with the family in 2010.
– Dr Alison Diamond, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust
In a joint statement, the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust apologised to Mrs Smith's family.
Both the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust are committed to the highest standards of healthcare and all those involved with the care and treatment of Christine Smith profoundly regret that opportunities were missed to provide her with the care she required.
Mrs Smith, from Braunton, had first gone to the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple with persistent headaches, vertigo and numbness in the face. They were symptoms of two deadly enlarged blood vessels putting pressure on her brain.
When the aneurisms were detected, the mother-of-four was referred to Plymouth's Derriford Hospital.
Mrs Smith's daughter, Beverley Hopkins, was determined to discover what had happened with her mother's care at both the North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and took legal action.
"We were all devastated by her death but when I wrote to the hospital trusts and health ombudsman to find out what had happened and they tried to fob me off for two years it was another kick in the teeth.
"It generally felt they were trying to brush it under the carpet and after getting nowhere for two years I decided legal action was my only option.