Medical negligence damages win for victim of surgical error

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Medical negligence damages win for victim of surgical error

20th August 2013

A man who endured a traumatic experience when a relatively straightforward surgery turned into a five-day nightmare has received £15,000 in compensation.

The Lancashire man, who was in his 40s, had been suffering from the condition gynaecomastia - an enlargement of the male breast tissue – and decided to undergo a surgical procedure to have some of the tissue removed.

Daniel Lee, head of the Medical Negligence department at Fentons Solicitors, said his client’s ordeal began shortly after his arrival at hospital.

“During a thorough examination of the notes, our medical expert discovered that a pre-operative assessment carried out at the hospital showed that my client had an elevated white blood cell count, indicating that he was probably suffering some form of viral infection,” said Daniel, a partner with the firm. “Ordinarily a procedure of this kind would have been postponed under the circumstances, but despite this my client was taken to theatre and the procedure carried out.”

Daniel said that, after being returned to the ward, his client began to develop a collection of blood – a haematoma - at the site of the operation. “He immediately had a further surgery to drain the blood, before being returned to the ward with a drain attached to his chest.

“But the following morning it was discovered that the drain had been malfunctioning and had not been draining blood,” he said. “Another collection of blood had formed, and my client had to again be taken into theatre for another operation, this time to surgically drain the second haematoma.”

Daniel said that it would have been normal practice for a patient who has had one complication from surgery due to bleeding - and had been returned to theatre to have the problem dealt with - to have been regularly and closely monitored by the nursing team. “But after the first draining procedure, my client was not examined for more than nine hours,” he said. “Had this been done, the fact that the drain had not been left open would have been identified and corrected, but instead my client developed a second haematoma as a result.”

Unfortunately this second draining procedure was carried out by a junior doctor who failed to appropriately identify the source of the bleed and repair it.

“Unbelievably within four hours of being returned to the ward, a third collection of blood had formed,” said Daniel. “My client was given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication - a medication that should have been avoided in this situation – and eventually, after a 16-hour delay, he was returned to theatre for a third collection of blood to be surgically drained, his fourth surgery in as many days.

“Although my client began to recover and no further collections of blood formed after this fourth procedure,” said Daniel, “he suffered from painful swelling and blistering to the chest wall, greater scarring than was necessary and a longer hospital stay.

“After assessing the standard of care my client received, it was clear that the hospital had failed on a number of points,” he said. “Not only had there been failures with regard to pre-operative observations and post-operative monitoring, which in itself amounts to a breach of duty of care, but the third surgery was negligently performed.

“Over an above this, upon examination by our medical expert, my client was discovered to still have a visible blue surgical suture at the edge of his scar. This should not have been left in place and should certainly have been identified and removed at his post-operative visit.

Following negotiations, Daniel secured a settlement of £15,000 on behalf of his client in respect of the pain and suffering he experienced and to allow him to undergo cosmetic surgery in the future.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons Solicitors has a specialist department experienced in handling claims involving all types of medical negligence, including cases arising from surgical error.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.