Medical Negligence – K v Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust

Claire Levene of our Clinical Negligence Team has successfully settled a client’s medical negligence claim for surgical injury against Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust for damages in the sum of £120,000.

Our client was incorrectly advised that she had several mid-line hernias that required surgical repair. In actual fact, she did not have any hernias and was suffering with a different condition, for which surgery was unnecessary.

During the operation, the surgeon cut through surgical mesh inserted during a previous operation. This was both inadvisable and unnecessary, and in cutting through it, he caused an injury to our client’s bowel. Unfortunately, the surgeon did not notice this injury at the time of the operation.

The day after her operation our client started to become unwell, and her condition deteriorated. She was taken back into theatre on an emergency basis the following day by one of the Consultants and he found multiple injuries to her bowels. Several sections of bowel had to be removed and our client was given a stoma.

After a few days in intensive care our client returned to the ward but continued to experience complications. She had to undergo a number of further operations and procedures including an operation to reverse her stoma. She was discharged from hospital twice but on both occasions was readmitted within a couple of days.

Unfortunately, our client developed a fistula (a hole/passage) tracking from her bowel out through her abdomen which leaked faeces. She also suffered massive herniation of her abdominal wall as a result of the additional surgery she had needed and the damage to the surgical mesh inserted previously. Unfortunately, due to her other health problems surgery to repair the fistula and the herniation was not an option and so her injuries were permanent.

Our client’s time in hospital was very traumatic and she found her injuries were a daily reminder of what had happened. Although she put dressings over her fistula, the dressings would often leak, and her clothing would be soiled by faeces. She also started to develop small fistulas that would drain pus and heal over but subsequently recur. She developed moderately severe depression and moderately severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Treatment was recommended; however, it was felt unlikely that her depression and PTSD would resolve completely given the permanent nature of her injuries and resultant disability.

The Defendant admitted liability at an early stage. It accepted that the treating surgeon should not have cut through the mesh from our client’s previous hernia repair and that he should have checked the bowels for injury before he closed the abdomen. It admitted that the injuries to the bowel were avoidable and that if the surgeon had checked the bowel properly before completing the operation, he would have found the damage and repaired it, following which our client would have made a full recovery and avoided any permanent injury and disability. The claim settled following completion of the Pre-Action Protocol for the Resolution of Clinical Disputes, without the need to issue court proceedings, with the Defendant paying compensation of £120,000.

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