Late father


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Well on the 10th of May my father went in for heart valve operation, without going into too much detail, the surgeon accidently sutured closed a branch of a significant dad never woke up...the post mortem report has just come out which confirms the cause of death and the coroner has just upgraded his investigation to an inquest. Has anyone had to attend an inquest before? Do we need a solicitor? As a family we are still in shock and upset over what happened, struggling to come to terms, but battling on..any help appreciated thanks Lee


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I haven't a clue regarding the legal side of it but you may be wise to take someone that's detached from it all. You won't take it all in, you'll be too emotional, you need a third party that's not going to have tears in their eyes.


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My Sympathy's to your family at this clearly sad time...the advice from the poster (rodp) above is correct...I believe you do need legal help and some one who is able to look at all the evidence with a cool clear professional head not heart...I hope it all turns out well for you and your family my friend...if I know this forum it won't be long before more help and advice is forth coming...Hugh.


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Deepest sympathy to you and your family.
I have attended several inquests over the years in previous has been said before I think you will need to seek legal advice, not for the inquest itself, but to be honest for what will follow. It sounds very much like there is significant evidence of culpability on behalf of the surgeon who operated and that will inevitably lead to offers/counter offers and much legal wrangling for which you will undoubtedly need to seek legal advice.
I'm sure most legal representatives would prefer to be involved from an early stage rather than coming in at a later time.
I cannot offer any advice regarding choosing a legal rep,etc but if you are to contact your Law Society i'm sure they will be able to offer impartial advice.
Regards and condolences, Rob.
Condolences upon the sad loss of your father
I have taken part in more inquests that I care to remember. My advice is that instructing a solicitor to represent your family, both at the actual inquest and any subsequent proceedings, is an absolute essential.
Best regards.
I would add to Uncle Norm's wise counsel, and that of Rob1562, to make early contact with a firm that specialises in medical negligence and NOT to rely on the stand-by "family solicitor" that you might have used for many years for house selling, tenancy contracts, business trade contracts and the like.

Negligence and medical negligence are highly specialised and require someone who does it as his or her regular work not as a "one off" to other legal practice. And to see what sort of attendance at the inquest that the various firms might offer before deciding which to instruct.

My condlences to you and your family. However, to be cold and dispassionate, your late father's age will be the critical factor on whether you may or not need to take proceedings beyond the inquest. The firms you contact will ask this and other questions so it may be a painful experience even before the actual day.
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I've nothing of any value to add, but I'd like to offer my sincere condolences. That must've been an awful blow, all the worst due to its unexpectedness. I'm so sorry


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..... Do we need a solicitor?
So sorry to hear about the loss of your father in such a tragic way.

In answer to your question "Do we need a solicitor?", I would recommend that you do go and see a solicitor experienced in such matters to discuss your options, and then decide. Many solicitors will give you a free 1 hour consultation.

I don't have experience of an inquest, but I have been in the family court for the last 18 months and I have had a solicitor, and a barrister to represent me in court. There were times when I felt that I could have represented myself, but there were also times when I was either too upset or I would have been out of my depth, and I was glad to have someone to represent me.

Good luck, and best wishes.


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Many thanks for the kind words and advice. It was especially hard on my mum, after 49 years marriage it was a tragic event, not to be at his side when he passed, he passed on the operating table at 1.30am with the surgeon trying to rectify the mistake. Unfortunately the suture had been in too long before the cardiac team realised there was a problem and cause of death was right venticular failure due to blood was even worse that my dad went in for a mitral valve repair, that had been done, but whilst the surgeon was in there he noticed the tricuspid valve enlarged so he sutured in a ring to fix that as was this unnessasary (as we found out later) add on that caused my dads death....
Although the surgeon is off my Christmas card list, we don't want him struck off or similar, as the day after he saved someone's life, he is good at what he does, he just had a bad day in the office....

all in in all its been a crappy year.


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Really sorry to hear that Lee, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

As others have said, it would be well worth having a specialist medical solicitor present both to act as your representative at the inquest and to work on any subsequent legal action that you might take. Better to involve them early so they have the full picture and have seen and heard exactly what went on so they are in the best possible place to represent you later on.


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How tragic and unnecessary, my sincere condolences to you and your family.

I can't add anymore than has already been said. Instructing a specialist medical solicitor is the way forward, even if you don't intend at this stage to take any action, being prepared for future developments and outcomes is without doubt the sensible way forward.


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Just wish to add my condolences. Tragic, but I hope time will at least partly heal what you and your family are at present going through.

As many say above, having been involved in many inquests, legal representation is a must to ensure the evidence you need to be presented is and that any contrary evidence is properly challenged as the inquest outcome will be pivotal to any subsequent claims. It does seem there is culpability on the part of the surgeon and his employers. I don't know how far along the road you are towards the inquest, but take a bit of time to select your solicitor and do a bit of research. The solicitor that represents your interests at the inquest might not be the same one that you retain to press home subsequent claims.

This may all sound a bit mercenary to you, but I doubt any monetary compensation will be adequate for the loss of your father. However, to pursue this, you will be ensuring as much as you can that what happened to your father will be properly recorded and that the likelihood of it happening to someone else is diminished, which may be some comfort.

Another reason to instruct a solicitor is that this is your father and with the best will in the world, you need the advice of someone who is not only experienced in this sort of thing, but can take a detached view.


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Many thanks again, we have chosen a medical negligence solicitor, to deal with both the inquest and claim. We are not bothered about monetary claim, but in the same instance we don't want the inquest to cost us anything, what we want are ALL the facts, how this managed to happen and also the facts leading up to the fateful operation, the operation was cancelled 4 times the day before, this put huge amounts of stress on my dad, lost TOE results etc etc..if the negligence claim covers the inquest and our costs travelling to and from Scotland then that's superb. The PALS team with the hospital senior management team were willing to travel to Scotland to meet with us in my house, but we want to get their report and have legal representation before any meetings.

things are moving forward but my mum is on the verge of a melt down...nothing will make this right...


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It's a horrible position to be in, and once again I know I'm not alone in really feeling for you and your family. I hope the inquest goes smoothly, and that you get the result you're hoping for. I know accidents happen, but in this case it's cost your family dear and you all, at the very very least, deserve to be told the full details of how and why this occurred. I also hope any necessary lessons are learned and your case may offer the comfort that in time you may help prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

The very best of luck


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Just to add that whilst money is clearly not your primary objective, your Mum needs to be looked after. Whilst it clearly was a tragic accident, there are clearly still people who were responsible. Your family deserve some financial payout for the pain and loss that you are suffering! Your family will incur costs and your Mum will almost certainly be worse off financially without your dad. Sorry that you are having to go through this!