£57,500 in provisional damages for negligently performed cholecystectomy

Our client, a 44 year old mum from Whitstable, underwent a cholecystectomy (operation to remove her gall bladder) at the QEQM Hospital in Margate on 15.10.07.

The procedure was performed laparoscopically (by keyhole surgery) and our client was only meant to be in hospital for the day of the surgery.

Post operatively, however, she suffered with pain, fever and jaundice, was kept in hospital and ultimately transferred to King’s.

Investigations showed an obstruction to the common bile duct and that surgical clips had been incorrectly applied to it and other structures at the time of the cholecystectomy.

At the end of October 2007 our client had to undergo a hepatico-jejunostomy remedial operation at King’s.

She was discharged home early in November, then spending a significant period convalescing, and off work, until early January 2008.

Thankfully, she has since made a very good recovery indeed and has returned to a normal family and home life.

Less fortunate is the fact that the negligence and necessary surgery that it gave rise to have left her with a lifelong risk of liver complications including further biliary stricture, secondary cirrhosis and the need for a liver transplant.

These risks are relatively small but are real nonetheless and lifelong.

We were instructed over the summer of 2008 and took the case forward to the point where it was listed for a three day trial at Canterbury County Court in February 2011.

Throughout the proceedings the Defendant Trust, the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, maintained that the case was not suitable for provisional damages.

Ultimately, however, some six weeks short of trial, this point was conceded and the case has now been settled on terms whereby the client is to receive £57,500 in immediate damages with the right to return to Court if she suffers a further stricture, cirrhosis or needs a liver transplant at any time during the remainder of her life.

Nick Fairweather, who had conduct of the matter, commented:-

“This should have been a straightforward procedure.

The substandard manner in which it was performed left my client seriously unwell.

Although she has thankfully made more or less a full recovery she has been placed at a lifetime risk of serious complications.

I wish Defendants would be more realistic in conceding provisional damages at an earlier stage in proceedings rather than ‘holding out’ in the hope that the Claimant’s resolve will falter.

Our client showed great courage and resolve in pursuing this matter and I am very pleased that we held out for a very good settlement indeed for her, both in the immediate damages level and in the future provisional entitlement terms.”