A senior doctor told an inquest yesterday that a woman was sent home from hospital because of the "substantial risk" of infection if she remained an in-patient.
Gulnar Qureshi, aged 44, from Acocks Green, was admitted to Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital three times in 26 days earlier this year and later died of blood clots to the lung.
At Birmingham Coroner's Court, her family questioned why doctors discharged her twice in that period and did not diagnose her with a pulmonary embolism until her third admission when she collapsed.
Mrs Qureshi, a mother-of-four, was first taken to Heartlands on January 28 after complaining of feeling dizzy at the funeral of her 26-year-old nephew.
Doctors initially diagnosed anxiety brought on by the stress of bereavement, and possible anaemia, and discharged her.
She was admitted again on February 16, after suffering palpitations, and problems breathing and walking, and discharged three days later.
On February 22, she was taken to casualty, where she collapsed. Doctors diagnosed a pulmonary embolism and she died two days later.
Professor Sherwood Burge, a consultant chest physician at the hospital, denied any gross negligence on the part of medical staff.
But he said: "I think we have tried hard and we clearly got it
wrong. It clearly had disastrous consequences."
Prof Burge said a pulmonary embolism was one of the most difficult diagnoses to make, and was made more difficult because Mrs Qureshi was not showing typical symptoms of the condition.
He said it was likely that she had suffered a clot on her first admission on January 28.
He said the hospital was unaware that she was taking an oral contraceptive that slightly increased the risk of blood clots, and attributed her one complaint of breathlessness to asthma. Mrs Qureshi was discharged on February 4. Prof Burge said: "You needed to be a clairvoyant to make a diagnosis of pulmonary embolism on the first admission."
He added: "We thought she was getting better. We thought any further investigation could happen more safely as an out-patient."
Asked by Birmingham Coroner Aidan Cotter to elaborate, he said there would have been an "increased risk" from a hospital stay.
He said: "There is a substantial risk of infection at Heartlands Hospital and other hospitals with MRSA. It's not a terribly safe place to be. It is usually safer at home."
Coroner Aidan Cotter recorded a verdict of natural causes. He explained to Mrs Qureshi's family, who were unhappy with the decision, that it would be up to a civil court to decide if there had been negligence on the part of the hospital.