A Birmingham health trust has admitted to fatal errors in its treatment of a breast cancer patient, who died after reconstructive surgery, it was revealed yesterday.
After receiving an undisclosed six-figure sum in compensation, Deborah Yardley's family now hope the city's coroner Aidan Cotter will open a fresh inquest into the 45-year-old's death.
Last night her husband David Yardley insisted the out-of-court settlement with University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust "was never about money".
Mr Yardley, a funeral director in Harborne, said: "Everyone makes mistakes but it was the way the hospitals dealt with it, putting us through two years suffering when they knew they were in the wrong.
"I deal with grief professionally every day, but Debbie was determined that we should keep on fighting and that the trust should be made accountable for their mistakes. "At least we can finally put this whole saga to rest, and let Debbie rest in peace."
Mrs Yardley, who lived in Quinton with David and their daughter Clare, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2003 - six months after a routine mammogram taken at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston was "lost".
It showed abnormalities in her breast tissue but staff filed the test results incorrectly and Mrs Yardley was not recalled for further treatment.
By the time it was detected, the cancer had spread and, on July 2, 2003, she had a double mastectomy.
Two years later, desperate to reclaim her femininity, Mrs Yardley underwent reconstructive breast surgery at Selly Oak Hospital.
After a six-hour operation, as theatre staff removed a ventilation tube, she suffered a laryngospasm which caused the larynx to close, stopping air getting into her lungs.
However the anaesthetist, Dr Martin King, did not notice what had happened, and Mrs Yardley went into cardio-respiratory arrest.
Independent experts later found that she had been given more than double the recommended dose of anaesthetic, Bupivacaine, which it is believed to have contributed to her death.
She suffered irreversible brain damage and, on August 7, 2005, her family took the difficult decision to switch off her life support machine.
Ironically, the trust's admission of liability in misplacing Mrs Yardley's original scan arrived the following day.
Mr Yardley added: "This has totally changed my personality and my life, but not for the better.
"I no longer feel comfortable in my home because everything in it is a constant reminder that my Debbie's not here.
"Debbie did everything for everyone but she was let down at a time when she needed help most, by the hospital.
"If she had died from the cancer I probably would have come to terms with it, but that's not what did for her, instead it was the hospital's blunders from missing scans to excessive doses of anaesthetic that ultimately led to her death.
"I just hope this will prevent other families from having to go the same painful process as we did." It is understood Dr King was suspended following Mrs Yardley's death, pending a disciplinary investigation.
Last November University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs both the QE and Selly Oak, also admitted the care Mrs Yardley received immediately after her second surgery "was substandard and that this care caused or materially contributed" to her death.
A trust spokeswoman said: "The trust sends its sincere condolences to the Yardley family and greatly appreciates the extreme distress caused.
"We are unable to comment on specific individuals and cases, for confidentiality reasons, however delivering the best in care for our patients is paramount."
Julie Lewis, of Birmingham-based law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "Deborah began legal action against the Trust and in July 2005 a formal admission was made, admitting staff had been negligent.
"The reconstructive surgery should have marked a new beginning for her but it ended tragically and the trust has now admitted that it failed in its duty of care to Mrs Yardley not once, but twice."