There is a common misconception that a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation is straightforward. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Although there is no excuse for the failure to remove a surgical instrument, swab or sponge prior to concluding a surgical procedure, a claim for retained medical equipment also has to show that the patient suffered a significant “adverse event” that would not have occurred otherwise.
The “adverse event” could be an injury, the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition or complications in a future surgical procedure; but if the presence of an item left inside during an operation is not considered to be a significant cause of any of these events, it will not be possible to make a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation.
If you believe that you have suffered an “adverse event” due to an item being left inside during an operation, you are invited to check your eligibility to claim for retained medical equipment by calling our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau and discussing the unfortunate event and its consequences with one of our experienced medical negligence solicitors.
Making a Compensation Claim for an Item left Inside during an Operation
Under guidelines issued by the NHS National Patient Safety Agency, all instruments, swabs and sponges should be accounted for before any of the surgical team leaves the operating theatre. If any item has been left inside you during an operation, this check should reveal that a mistake has been made straightaway and the missing item should be located and removed.
If you have suffered an adverse event due to retained medical equipment, and the above check was not performed, there can be no justifiable defence against a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation. Your solicitor will send a “Letter of Claim” to the NHS Trust or medical centre responsible for your care informing the negligent party that you are making a claim for retained medical equipment and inviting the NHS Trust or medical centre to make an offer of settlement.
The NHS Trust/medical centre is allowed ninety days to conduct its own investigation to establish how the item was left inside of you before having no option but to admit liability for your injury. Your solicitor will advise you whether any offer of settlement is appropriate for the level of injury you sustained and, if not, enter into negotiations for a more suitable settlement of your claim for retained medical equipment.
The Settlement of your Claim for Retained Medical Equipment
The first element of your settlement for the claim for retained medical equipment will account for the pain and suffering you have experienced. Figures quoted in the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines for General Damages in Personal Injury Cases will be used as a guideline, and then adjusted to account for your age, your general state of health prior to the surgical procedure and – depending on the nature of the injury and its consequences – your gender
You are also entitled to include in your compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation any deterioration in your quality of life that is attributable to the surgical team´s negligence. If, for example, you are unable to pursue hobbies or social pastimes that were a part of your life prior to the negligent medical procedure, that element should also be accounted for in the settlement of your claim for retained medical equipment.
If you have suffered any diagnosed degree of psychological trauma due to an item being left inside during an operation, you will also be compensated for your emotional trauma; and you will also be able to recover any costs you have incurred – or income you have lost – when you make a successful compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation.
Further Information about Retained Medical Equipment and Compensation
With so many possible scenarios in which it may – or may not – be possible to make a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation, and the variable elements involved in the settlement of a claim for retained medical equipment, it is always in your best interests to seek professional legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity.
As mentioned above, we invite you to call our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau and discuss your experience with a medical negligence solicitor. Our solicitor will be able to answer any legal questions you may have about making a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation and guide you through the procedures for making a claim for retained medical equipment as they apply in your particular situation.
As you would expect from a professional legal service, all calls to our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau are completely confidential. Furthermore, by using our service you are under no obligation to make a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation. Our aim is to provide you with impartial legal information, so that you can make an informed decision about whether you have a claim for retained medical equipment that may be worth your while to pursue.