UK Post Surgery Medical Negligence

Post-surgery medical negligence occurs when avoidable injuries – most often hospital infections – or a deterioration in a patient occurs due to a breach in the acceptable standard of care. There is very little defence against post-surgery medical negligence, yet claims for compensation are often difficult to prove because in a post-surgical environment it is likely that the patient has a supressed immune system and is more susceptible to injuries.

Other areas in which post-surgery medical negligence include the incorrect administration of medication and the failure to act on changes in the patient´s health. Once the immediate recovery period is over, there may also be issues with inadequate nursing care when the patient suffers from bed sores or slips and falls while under the hospital´s care because of a lack of supervision.

Due to the many grey areas surrounding compensation claims for post-surgery medical negligence, it is recommended that you discuss your standard of care with a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity. The solicitor will request access to your medical records (or the medical records for the patient you are representing) and have them reviewed for evidence of post-surgical medical negligence.

Once sufficient evidence of a lack of care is collected to support a claim for compensation for post-surgery medical negligence, your solicitor will send a Letter of Claim to the hospital. Provided that there is sufficiently strong evidence of post-surgery medical negligence, liability will be acknowledged and the solicitor will negotiate your maximum entitlement of compensation.

Woman Settles her Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Skin Cancer

A woman who was told she had a malignant melanoma after being informed the growth was benign has settled her claim for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer.

In February 2013, Joyce Huck (72) from Sutton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire, underwent surgery at Bradford Royal Infirmary to have a growth on her skin removed. Two separate tests reported that the growth was non-cancerous but, when the growth started to develop again, Joyce expressed her concerns to her GP.

The GP referred Joyce for a biopsy and, on Christmas Eve 2014, she was called back into the hospital and told she had a malignant melanoma. Joyce underwent further surgery in early 2015 to have the growth removed again, and samples were taken from her lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread to her organs. Fortunately she was given the all clear.

After recovering from the second round of surgery, Joyce sought legal advice and made a claim for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer against the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – alleging that the stress and anxiety she had suffered between the correct diagnosis being made and receiving the all clear had been very painful for her and her family.

The NHS Trust admitted a breach in its duty of care, and a five-figure settlement of Joyce´s claim for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer was agreed. The NHS Trust also publicly apologised for the stress and anxiety Joyce and her family had suffered, saying it was “deeply sorry”. A spokesman added: “The care we provided fell below our usual high standards and we sincerely apologise to Mrs Huck for this”.

Speaking after her claim for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer had been resolved, Joyce told her local newspaper: “At the time [of being called back to the hospital] I was not told the previous biopsies had been misreported. It was only when I was referred to a plastic surgeon for the growth to be completely removed that I was told the earlier biopsies had also shown cancer. It was shocking to think I’d been living with cancer for so long and it had been left untreated.”

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Woman Settles Claim for Post-Hysterectomy Medical Negligence

A woman from Nottinghamshire has received an undisclosed settlement of compensation after having made a claim for post-hysterectomy medical negligence.

On 13th August 2012, Tina Grace (44) from Kirkby in Nottinghamshire attended the Kings Mill Hospital to undergo a hysterectomy. The procedure appeared to be successful and Tina was discharged five days later despite concerns by her parents that she was not well enough to care for her two children who were aged 13 and 2 at the time.

Three weeks after the operation, Tina started to feel breathless and experienced a burning sensation in her leg. Tina´s parents called an ambulance and Tina was readmitted to the Kings Mill Hospital, where she was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis. Unfortunately the blood clot in her leg had broken up, travelled up to her lungs and caused a pulmonary embolism.

Tina remained in hospital for eleven days, and then had to take the blood-thinning agent Warfarin for a further six months. During her recovery Tina sought legal advice and made a claim for post-hysterectomy medical negligence – alleging that she should have been provided with surgical stockings and anti-clotting medication on her discharge from the hysterectomy procedure.

In November 2012, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust acknowledged liability for Tina´s deep vein thrombosis and accepted that, on the balance of probabilities, the pulmonary embolism would have been avoided if Tina had been provided with surgical stockings and anti-clotting medication when she was discharged from Kings Mill Hospital in August.

After lengthy negotiations, a settlement of Tina´s claim for post-hysterectomy medical negligence was agreed with the NHS Trust. Speaking after the undisclosed settlement had been negotiated, Tina told her local newspaper she feared her two children would be left motherless due to the post-hysterectomy medical negligence. “I really felt like I could have died. I was terrified and it felt like every breath I took would be my last,” she said.

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NHS Acknowledges Liability in Locked-In Syndrome Compensation Claim

An NHS Trust has acknowledged that the standard of care provided to a girl making a locked-in syndrome compensation claim fell below an acceptable standard.

In September 2011, Anna White (then fifteen years of age) was admitted to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan for an appendectomy. The operation appeared to have gone well until Anna started convulsing during her recovery.

Anna continued convulsing to the alarm of her mother – Donna – who was by her daughter´s bedside. Donna attracted a nurse´s attention, but it was too late to prevent Anna suffering a cardiac arrest. While she was being resuscitated, Anna suffered a lack of oxygen, which resulted in brain damage and catastrophic disabilities.

Now nineteen years of age, Anna is unable to get out of bed or move from her wheelchair without specialist equipment. She cannot wash or feed herself unaided, and can only communicate by looking at letters on a board to spell out words. Her intellectual capacity is unimpaired but doctors say she faces being “locked in” her body for the rest of her life.

An investigation into what caused Anna to suffer a cardiac arrest after a routine operation found that the tube used to deliver anaesthetic to Anna during the appendectomy was not flushed out properly after it had been used. A small dose of the drug was left inside it and when fluids were administered to Anna following the surgery through the same tube, the remaining anaesthetic was inadvertently delivered into her body.

On her daughter´s behalf, Donna made a locked-in syndrome compensation claim so that Anna will be provided with the specialist care she will need for the rest of her life. Now the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has admitted liability for the error that caused Anna to suffer such catastrophic disabilities and negotiations have started to settle the locked-in syndrome compensation claim.

A spokesperson for the NHS Trust said: “The Trust has admitted that the care it provided to Anna White fell below an acceptable standard, and has apologised unreservedly to Ms White for this. The Trust has implemented a number of changes to eliminate the possibility of this type of failing occurring in the future. Given that legal proceedings in relation to this care are ongoing, the Trust is unable to offer further comment at this stage”.

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Claim for the Failure to Treat Post-Surgery Complications Resolved Out of Court

A family is to receive a six-figure settlement of compensation in resolution of its claim for the failure to treat post-surgery complications.

On 28th April 2009, Tracy Hall (38) from Castleford in West Yorkshire underwent elective surgery for the reversal of a stoma at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. The surgery lasted nine hours, after which Tracy – who was diagnosed with Crohn´s disease in 1996 – suffered complications including internal bleeding and an infection.

Tracy´s wound opened several times and had to be washed out to prevent further infections, but her condition continued to deteriorate. On 4th May doctors noticed a significant amount of blood in her stoma bag. She was returned to theatre, where it was discovered that an artery had been cut and her abdominal wall had burst.

Following further surgery, Tracy – who had suffered with abdominal pain and lost nearly three stone in weight in the months prior to the surgery – was transferred to the hospital´s High Dependency Unit, where she was sedated and put on a life support machine. Tragically she died eight days later from multiple organ failure caused by sepsis.

Tracy´s husband instructed medical negligence solicitors to investigate the level of care his wife had received, and subsequently made a claim for the failure to treat post-surgery complications against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust when it was discovered that there had be a delay in identifying and treating the complications.

It was also admitted by the NHS Trust that the surgery should have been delayed because Tracy´s Crohn´s disease was particularly active at the time. Tracy´s husband and the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust agreed on a six-figure settlement of the claim for the failure to treat post-surgery complications, after which Tracy´s mother, Carol, said:

“We have been completely heartbroken since losing Tracy – it was incredibly difficult for the whole family to see her suffer like she did and deteriorate so quickly in front of our eyes. We never imagined that just two weeks after surgery she would no longer be with us. I just hope that this doesn’t happen to any other families and that the NHS Trust learns from its mistakes.”

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Settlement Approved of Compensation for Brain Damage due to Medical Negligence

A High Court judge in Ireland has approved an interim €1.5 million settlement of compensation for brain damage due to medical negligence at a Dublin hospital.

Martin Byrne (52) from Swords in County Dublin was admitted to the Mater University Hospital in December 2010 to undergo surgery to resolve his angina. The surgery initially appeared successful but, when pacing wires were removed five days later, Martin suffered a heart attack caused by internal bleeding.

Following the heart attack, Martin´s heart stopped for fifteen minutes – during which time his brain was deprived of oxygen. He went into a coma from which he did not awaken until February 2011, when it was discovered that he had suffered profound brain damage. Martin is now cared for full-time by his wife Una, who has given up her job to support him.

As he is unable to legally represent himself, Una claimed compensation for brain damage due to medical negligence on Martin´s behalf – alleging that the junior medical staff who had removed the pacing wires from Martin´s heart were inexperienced, and that their lack of skill resulted in the internal bleeding that led to the heart attack and subsequent deprivation of oxygen.

It took over three years for the Mater University Hospital to acknowledge its liability for Martin´s injury, after which an interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to medical negligence was agreed. However, as the claim was made on behalf of a claimant legally unable to represent themselves, the settlement first had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in Martin´s best interests.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard about Martin´s background – that he was a former taxi driver and father of four who, prior to his heart attack, had been an active man who enjoyed camping with his family and scuba diving. Una told Judge Cross “we thought it was the beginning of the rest of our lives as our children were working or at college”.

Judge Cross was also told the details of the interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to medical negligence. The interim settlement of €1.5 million will cover Martin´s medical and rehabilitation costs for the next three years while reports are compiled on his future needs. Then he will either receive a lump sum settlement of the claim or periodic payments for the rest of his life.

The judge approved the settlement of compensation for brain damage due to medical negligence and adjourned the case – wishing the family well for the future.

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Family to Pursue Claim for Wrongful Death due to Negligent Post-Operative Care

A family have instructed a solicitor to pursue a claim for a wrongful death due to negligent post-operative care at the private Yorkshire Clinic in Bingley.

On 25th September 2014, James Hartley (79) from Addingham was admitted as an NHS patient to the private Yorkshire Clinic in Bingley for a routine hernia repair operation. The hernia repair operation went as planned, but twenty-four hours afterwards James suffered a series of seizures.

James was transferred to the intensive care department at Bradford Royal Infirmary, where tests revealed evidence of low sodium levels and a swelling of the brain. James died six days later from water intoxication, multiple organ failure due to sepsis and pneumonia.

An inquest into his death found that James – described as “fit and healthy” prior to his hernia operation – had not been fitted with a catheter until fourteen hours after his operation, during which time he had been encouraged to drink plenty of water.

The catheter had been removed straight after 650ml of fluid had been removed, and James fluid levels had not been checked since – causing a fatal amount of water to build up in his system which led to the swelling of his brain and the development of sepsis.

Assistant coroner Oliver Langstaff recorded a verdict of death by misadventure at the inquest, but he noted: “There is no doubt in my mind that the major contributing force in Mr Hartley’s death was water intoxication brought on by an overload of fluids that went unmonitored and unnoticed”.

Mr Langstaff added: “I have some misgivings of the overall thoroughness to the investigation into nurses responsible for Mr Hartley’s care on September 25 and they are conspicuous by their absence from this inquiry.”

Members of the family attending the inquest said that they were pleased that the assistant coroner had highlighted the lack of care received by James, and revealed that they had instructed a solicitor to pursue a claim for wrongful death due to negligence post-operative care.

Mr Hartley’s son Richard, added: “[the death of James] raises another issue of private companies coming in and taking over NHS operations and it asks questions about the standard of care provided in supposedly easy contracts.”

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Man Awarded Compensation for a Pulmonary Embolism after Surgery

A man who was not advised of the potential consequences of a hernia operation has been awarded £17,500 compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery.

David Spencer (49) attended Hillingdon Hospital on 1st February 2010 for routine surgery to repair a hernia. The operation was supposed to be conducted by laparoscopy but, due to excessive bleeding obscuring the surgeon´s view, it was completed by an open procedure.

David was considered sufficiently recovered to be discharged from the hospital the same evening, but a few days later he started to suffer aching calf muscles. On his return to work as a property services manager on 15th February, David´s calves were still aching and he noticed that he was short of breath when climbing stairs.

As he had been unable to take much exercise due to his hernia problems, David attributed the pains in his calves and his shortness of breath to a general lack of fitness; but, when his breathlessness failed to improve, David contacted his GP, who advised him to return to the hospital.

On 23rd April, David attended the A&E Department at Hillingdon Hospital and was admitted after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. He was treated with blood thinning medication and kept in hospital for five days until his condition improved.

Following his discharge, David sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery; alleging that he had not been informed of the full risks associated with the procedure before being asked to give his consent.

The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust acknowledged that David had not been specifically warned about the risks of deep vein thrombosis developing after his operation, but contested that he had been told to report “any problems” that he experienced in the weeks and months after his initial discharge.

As a result of the dispute of David´s failure to report the pain in his calves to either his GP or his consultant, the claim for compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery went to the High Court, where it was heard by His Honour Judge Collender QC.

Judge Collender was told that a settlement of compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery amounting to £17,500 had been agreed, but that the Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust wanted a 50 percent reduction of the settlement to account for David´s contributory negligence.

After hearing that David that been fitted with pneumatic boots during the surgery – a device that is intended to improve a patient’s blood circulation so as to reduce the risk of a patient suffering from deep vein thrombosis – the judge concluded that the hospital had been aware of the risk of a pulmonary embolism, but this information had not been passed onto David before he was asked to sign the consent form.

Judge Collender ruled that as David had not been informed of the risk of deep vein thrombosis, and that David believed his calf pains were unconnected to his surgery, he could not be considered to have contributed to the extent or severity of his injury. The judge therefore upheld the agreed £17,500 settlement of compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery.

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