Rose Fuentebaja, a dedicated nurse from Stratford-upon-Avon, tragically lost her life in June 2017 due to an undiagnosed irregular heartbeat. She was hospitalised at Warwick Hospital for a week before suffering cardiac arrest and passing away. Initially, doctors thought the cause was neurological, but later investigations found they missed signs of an irregular heartbeat.

Following legal action, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and West Midlands Ambulance Service admitted faults in her care, settling for £1 million with her widower.

Mrs Fuentebaja had emigrated from the Philippines to the UK with her husband. She was passionate about helping others and saved numerous lives as a nurse. Mr Fuentebaja stated, „She was so committed to saving others, but when it came to her own health, she did not receive the help she needed. This tragic turn of events left me in deep depression for quite some time.“

Failures in diagnosis and care

The legal proceedings revealed that West Midlands Ambulance Service breached its duty of care when paramedics failed to recognise potential cardiac issues indicated by an electrocardiogram (ECG). They also admitted they should have advised Mrs Fuentebaja to seek immediate hospitalisation that day.

In her first ECG test, healthcare professionals identified disturbances in her heartbeat. However, these findings were dismissed as anxiety-related, and she was not sent to hospital. South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust admitted to breaching its duty by neglecting to refer Mrs. Fuentebaja to cardiology and by omitting continuous heart monitoring. This oversight might have led to an earlier, accurate diagnosis and potentially lifesaving treatment.

Legal case details and reactions

Elizabeth Maliakal from Hudgell Solicitors highlighted Mrs. Fuentebaja’s death as tragic and preventable, stressing that timely treatment could have saved her. She criticised missed opportunities by both health providers.

West Midlands Ambulance Service admitted fault for overlooking cardiac issues despite clear test results and symptoms, leading to reforms to prevent future occurrences. South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust offered condolences and noted organisational changes post a thorough 2017 incident investigation.

The heartbreaking case of Rose Fuentebaja underscores the critical need for vigilant medical care and prompt diagnosis. The settlement serves as a reminder of the profound impact of medical negligence on families and the ongoing efforts needed to improve patient safety across healthcare systems.