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Case study: negligent gynaecological surgery

Clarke Willmott has successfully obtained £75,000 for a client who underwent negligent gynaecological surgery.

Ms S had a long history of heavy periods, clots and dyspareunia. In December 2018 it was agreed that she could undergo a hysterectomy to try to address these issues. Ms S had problems with skin healing and so it was agreed that surgery would be done laparoscopically to reduce any issues with healing as much as possible. On the morning of the surgery Ms S was advised that the equipment for the laparoscopy was “not suitable”. Because the surgery had already been cancelled twice by this point Ms S was keen to go ahead with surgery so agreed to undergo a laparotomy instead. No antibiotics were given pre or post surgery.

Post operatively Ms S was in quite a bit of pain. She developed chest pain whilst recovering and it was noted that she had extensive right middle lobe collapse and consolidation. She was treated with Tinzaparin. She was discharged home on the evening of 24 December 2018. She felt particularly unwell once she was back home. She woke a few days later feeling extremely unwell and an ambulance was called. She was taken back to hospital where a CT scan was carried out. This noted suggestions of a rectal tumour which was causing a bowel obstruction. There was also suspicion of a perforation. She was taken back to theatre that day. It was noted that she had a large abscess cavity in her pelvis. There did not appear to be any injury to either the small or large bowel. The left fallopian tube was removed as it was necrotic.

In its Letter of Response, the Defendant admitted that had Ms S been given antibiotics, the likelihood of her developing an infection would have been reduced but not prevented. It is likely that she would have avoided the readmission to hospital, the need for surgical drain and the prolonged recovery time. Once she was back home Ms S required a considerable amount of care and support. In addition to the original hysterectomy incision, Ms S also had a significant midline laparotomy scar which took around 4 months to begin to heal. The incision scar is thickened and punctate scarring from staples is also still visible now.

Originally Ms S had planned to take 6-8 weeks off work to recover from the hysterectomy. Instead she ended up unable to return to her previous self-employed position, and instead had to take a lower paid role on an employed basis. We were able to obtain  the sum of £75,000 for Ms S which included a claim for general damages for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity including the additional scarring; past care and past loss of earnings, as well as a small claim for future losses as Ms S is at increased risk of hernia as a result of the two surgeries she had to undergo.


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