Liability Admitted For Causing Loss of Spleen

Our client, a 40 year old woman at the time, underwent a hysterectomy at the Medway Maritime Hospital on 26.07.10. She was subsequently discharged home, but returned to hospital on 05.08.10 with increasing pain in her left leg and abdomen.

Our client was thought to have a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the left thigh, and was commenced on Fragmin injections (an anticoagulant). A Doppler ultrasound scan was negative for DVT, so a lung VQ scan was performed. That VQ scan was reported to be suspicious for a pulmonary embolism (PE), but the recommended CTPA scan was not performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Our expert evidence confirmed both that the VQ scan ought to have been reported as normal (rather than suspicious), and that even if it had been thought to be suspicious a CTPA scan was required to confirm the diagnosis and a CTPA scan (if performed) would have been negative for a PE.

Instead, on the basis of the incorrect diagnosis of a PE, our client continued to be treated with Fragmin, and also Warfarin (another anticoagulant).

On 15.08.10 she became increasingly unwell with left upper quadrant abdominal pain and falling haemoglobin levels, and on 16.08.10 a CT scan revealed a large bleed.

The unnecessary anticoagulation had resulted in the spontaneous rupture of her spleen, and our client underwent an emergency laparotomy on 16.08.10 to stop the bleed and to remove her spleen.

The Defendant admitted breach of duty in failing to appropriately report the VQ scan as normal. They also admitted that the various anticoagulants should not have been given.

Alex Tengroth, who has conduct of the claim, commented:

It is unclear why these errors occurred, but it is encouraging that the Defendant has acknowledged those failings in early course.

It is yet to be seen what impact the loss of her spleen will have upon our client in the future, and work is now underway to value and settle the claim.