Compensation for Fatal Hernia Operation Awarded to Widower

The widower of a woman who died following a “routine” hospital procedure has been awarded £150,000 compensation for fatal hernia operation in an out-of-court settlement.

Helen Blyth (79) underwent the hernia procedure at Northampton General Hospital in March 2010 after being diagnosed with a large hiatus hernia behind her heart border. Soon after 8.00pm on the evening of her surgery, Helen´s blood pressure fell and, at 1.00am the following morning, she was found unresponsive. Despite the best efforts of the emergency team, Helen died at 1.55am.

An inquest into Helen´s death attributed the decrease in blood pressure and subsequent cardiac arrest to a rare complication following surgery; however Helen´s husband – Sydney Blyth – asked solicitors to look more closely into the circumstances surrounding her death.

The solicitor´s medical expert discovered that the surgeon in charge of Helen´s hernia operation – Mr David Cubbon Hunter – had used Pro Tack staples during the procedure despite the manufacturer´s warning that the staples should not be used in circumstances such as Helen´s where the hiatus hernia was located in the diaphragm.

Helen´s family made a claim for fatal hernia operation compensation against Mr Hunter and the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, alleging that Mr Hunter both knew about the warning given by the manufacturers of Pro Tack staples and chose to ignore it or was not aware of the risks involved – in either case demonstrating medical negligence.

After an internal investigation, the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust admitted liability for the error which cost Helen Blyth her life and apologised. A settlement of compensation for fatal hernia operation amounting to £150,000 was negotiated between Sydney´s solicitors and insurers for the hospital.