£175,000 recovered for negligently performed laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Our client, a 55 year old woman from Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital, on 11.03.13.

Access to the abdomen was gained through a ‘closed’ technique with a Veress needle. However, this resulted in an injury to the small bowel which was not identified at the time of the surgery.

Our client was discharged home, but quickly developed abdominal pain and an ambulance returned her to hospital on 12.03.13. Following a CT scan, a laparotomy was performed on 13.03.13 to repair the damaged bowel. Our client did not require a colostomy.

However, it was impossible to close the wound post-operatively, so our client was left with a large open wound for many months until it eventually healed.

Unfortunately, she then developed a hernia due to the large midline incision, and this required extensive mesh repair.

Our client was prevented from returning to work, initially as a consequence of her open abdominal wound, subsequently due to her hernia and the risk of future recurrence.

Expert evidence was obtained which confirmed that our client’s previous pelvic surgery, with likely adhesions, meant that access into the abdomen should have been through the ‘open’ technique, or at Palmer’s Point (in the upper left abdomen).

The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability early on, but settlement was delayed while our client recovered from the surgery and underwent treatment for the hernia.

The Defendant made an initial offer of £130,000, and after negotiations a settlement was achieved in the sum of £175,000.

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of this case, said “this case highlights the importance of treating each patient as an individual and the need to alter standard operating techniques when the specific circumstances require it. Too often there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach in the NHS, which leads to adverse outcomes like this one.”