Gynaecological treatment focuses chiefly on the health of the female reproductive system and this may arise at any age and could cover malignant disease, medical management of a chronic condition, surgery or post-natal care. Often referrals to a Gynaecologist arise to assist in the management of an on-going and significant medical problem.
Medical negligence can arise from failure to diagnose cancer, complications during surgery eg a routine hysterectomy where there is damage to the bowel, bladder or other organs. Or, following child birth, either a failure to recognise and treat a complication after vaginal delivery or failing to deal adequately with post-natal infection.
In this area of medicine, given the proximity of the reproductive system to other organs which are susceptible to damage during surgery, gynaecological conditions can be difficult to treat without some risk of harm. In terms of diagnosis, clinicians can sometimes mistake a benign condition for one that is in fact malignant.
We have previously assisted Claimants with cases involving inappropriate treatment of ovarian cysts, female cancers, and womb prolapse. We have also acted for women who have suffered complications of TVT tape surgery (the insertion of a supportive sling underneath the bladder, to treat stress urinary incontinence), and claims relating to swabs which have been retained during surgery.
Cervical cancer claims
Compensation claims may arise from a failure of screening with mistakes in the Pathology Lab or administrative errors in failing to recall women who should receive further treatment. There should be robust processes in place to prevent mistakes but from time to time they do arise. There may also be an issue with regard to the management of any diagnosed cancer.
Surgical negligence claims
Complications during gynaecological surgery are usually entirely unforeseen and follow routine procedures where a patient is expecting a swift discharge from hospital and a rapid return to normal life.
When complications occur, they are often treated in an emergency setting with no time for the surgeon to explain to the patient what has occurred. Patients can therefore be left confused about their treatment, many with lifelong problems and on-going treatment needs.
As surgical damage may involve a perforation particularly to the bowel, contaminated waste products cause sepsis which can be life threatening and patients rapidly become unwell. Sometimes perforation or injury to other organs is a known risk of surgery but failing either to recognise the injury during surgery or that a patient is not recovering appropriately when back on the ward often give rise to a medical negligence claim. Delay in these situations can compound the effect of the original injury and result in treatment with colostomy or ileostomy which even if not permanent, can lead to significant and avoidable scarring and psychological injury.
Birth injury claims
Many women suffer injury, as a natural part of giving birth. The most common injury is a tear to the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus). There are different levels of severity of tear, ranging from 1st – 4th degree. In most cases, these tears are unavoidable and are recognised at the time of delivery. Correct recognition and treatment of even serious tears can, for the most part, limit the consequences to short term problems.
However, sometimes very severe tears can occur due to failures in care (such as the failure to intervene appropriately). Such tears can have much longer lasting consequences. In other cases, serious tears may go unrecognised and untreated, resulting in devastating and traumatic consequences including pain, loss of sensation and incontinence.
It is important for perineal injuries to be referred to the appropriate specialist for follow up care. Failure to do so, could well result in less effective treatment and overall a poor outcome with life changing consequences.
Contact a medical negligence lawyer
To talk to us about a gynaecological or birth injury compensation claim, call us now on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.