£66,250 recovered for negligently performed laparoscopy

18.01.19 – Our client, a 50-year-old woman from Ashford, Kent, underwent a laparoscopic oophorectomy (removal of ovary) at the William Harvey Hospital in June 2013.

During that operation the gynaecological surgeon found adhesions and divided them using diathermy to the point that he could then safely remove the ovary. However, he then saw a further band of adhesions near the sigmoid colon and, on advice from a colorectal surgeon, proceeded to divide these adhesions also (even though it appeared unnecessary for the purposes of the planned surgery).

During the course of dividing this further band of adhesions, there was some concern that there had been some damage to the bowel wall, but on close inspection no injury could be identified so the operation was completed, our client was sent back to the ward, and was discharged 2 days later.

Our client had abdominal pain upon discharge from hospital, which worsened over the next couple of days at home until it became excruciating, and resulted in re-admission to hospital. Our client then underwent an emergency laparotomy which identified a perforation in the bowel wall, requiring a bowel resection and formation of a temporary stoma (which was reversed 8 months later).

Due to her injuries, our client was caused to give up her job in a supermarket, and she developed a psychiatric injury also.

Expert evidence confirmed that the injury to the bowel wall, caused by diathermy, was not negligent of itself but that it must have been significant (to result in a full thickness perforation just 5 days later) and would have been evident upon an adequate inspection by the surgeons during the original surgery. It was concluded, therefore, that an inadequate inspection had been performed and /or that there was a failure to perform a precautionary repair to obviate the risk of delayed perforation.

The Defendant denied the claim on breach of duty (on the basis that it was acceptable to divide the further band of adhesions, and that any injury caused to the bowel wall was minimal as nothing had been seen upon careful inspection), but admitted that if breach of duty was proven then it followed that that breach of duty had been the cause of the bowel perforation and subsequent treatment / complications.

In July 2016, the Defendant invited our client to withdraw her claim.

It was not until May 2017 that they made their first monetary offer of £42,500. This was not accepted, but the Defendant did not improve their offer until August 2018 when they offered £52,500. That offer was also not accepted, and the Defendant then made a further offer of £66,250 in January 2019. That offer was acceptable, and brought the claim to an end less than 3 months before the Trial was listed to take place.

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of this case, said “it is a shame that this claim took so long to conclude, as it seemed to me that the weight of evidence was strongly in my client’s favour, but the delay was due to the way the Defendant approached the litigation. It is difficult (even now) to understand the Defendant’s approach, which caused costs to increase significantly during the almost 2 years between their first offer and the eventual settlement. However, the right result was achieved in the end, and my client is pleased that the Defendant acknowledged their poor treatment of her through reaching this settlement.”

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