Our client, a 53 year old woman from Ashford, Kent, suffered injury to the bowel mesentery during an operation for hysterectomy and pelvic floor repair at the Kings College Hospital (“KCH”) in London, in May 2013.
As a result of the bowel mesentery having a stitch placed through it, our client underwent an emergency laparotomy 6 days later to remove the stitch.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of that emergency surgery, our client required admission to ITU post-operatively, and required intubation. She had already suffered compromise to her airway some years previously, including a tracheostomy, and although she had largely recovered from that episode, as a result of the need for intubation in May 2013 our client’s airway was further compromised and she ended up requiring a further tracheostomy (which was subsequently reversed a few months later).
Although our client did not suffer any ongoing gynaecological or bowel problems, she did have an abdominal scar which she found unsightly. In addition, and most significantly, she suffered with increased breathlessness, a weak voice, and swallowing difficulties consequent upon the tracheostomy and the worsening of her airway (although the day to day impact was limited).
Supportive expert evidence was obtained from a gynaecological surgeon, who advised that the bowel injury was caused by negligent surgery. Further expert evidence was then obtained, in order to quantify the claim, from a colorectal surgeon and an ENT surgeon.
A letter of claim was submitted to KCH, but this was met with a denial of liability – KCH arguing that the injury was a recognised complication of the surgery our client was undergoing.
We therefore returned to our gynaecology expert for further comment, and then sent a rebuttal letter to KCH. Although KCH sought to maintain their denial of liability, they did accept that they would be at ‘litigation risk’ if they defended the claim to Trial and so agreed to enter into settlement negotiations.
The matter was settled in the sum of £30,000.
Our client was represented by both Kate Virica and Alex Tengroth. Alex commented “This was an unusual case in which the main injury – the airway compromise – arose from the second operation (which was required in order to rectify the negligence from the first operation). The Defendant does of course remain liable in such a situation, and we are very pleased that the claim was settled in early course.”