£22,500 recovered for failure to provide post-operative pain relief

We have recently settled a case on behalf of a woman from Canterbury who underwent a major operation for lung cancer in January 2008 only to be left without adequate pain relief post-operatively.

Our client was meant to receive strong intravenous pain relief. However, due to a catalogue of errors on the part of the treating doctors and nurses this was delayed for around 30 hours.

Initially, the anaesthetist incorrectly wrote up the prescription on our client’s drug chart, which meant the nursing staff were unable to prescribe the required medication and could only provide oral pain relief which had little or no effect on our client’s pain. The nursing staff then delayed reporting the error to the anaesthetic team, and when they did report it the anaesthetic team failed to remedy the problem.

It was not until after the ward round the morning after the day of the operation that the prescription error was finally rectified and our client began receiving the appropriate pain relief.

As a result of the lack of pain relief our client not only suffered from the obvious physical pain but, not unsurprisingly, also suffered a psychiatric injury.

The Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust formally admitted liability for many of the errors, though not all, and agreed to settle the case for £22,500.

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of the mater, commented:-

“The lack of communication between the various doctors and nurses responsible for my client’s post-operative care was staggering.

It is unacceptable for any patient in hospital to be left without adequate pain relief in any circumstances, but to do so knowingly and following a major operation is absolutely inexcusable.

Despite the inadequacy of the care she received my client was still reluctant to bring a claim against the Trust, but the strength of feeling surrounding the way in which the complaint was handled finally made her mind up.

Now that she can put this matter firmly behind her, she is looking forward to recovering as fully as possible. Everyone at the firm wishes her the very best for the future.”