£475,000 for bowel damage from negligent surgery
In 2014 a 67 year-old man was awarded compensation of £475,000 following hospital negligence that resulted in a bowel injury suffered during surgery five years earlier.
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The claimant went to A&E suffering from severe abdominal pain. He was admitted and a CT scan confirmed the diagnosis of a small bowel obstruction.
Surgery was recommended and a laparotomy was performed the next day.
After initially making good progress he suffered from abdominal pain. A CT scan showed a bowel leak which had caused peritonitis.
Emergency surgery was recommended. During this surgery the small bowel was so damaged severely that the majority of it had to be removed.
The large bowel was also damaged, with further procedures required during the operation to repair the damage.
The claimant was admitted to intensive care. Complications led to further surgery being necessary.
The surgery was drastic with large areas of his remaining bowel removed. As a result he was left needing a colostomy on a permanent basis.
Following his discharge from hospital his life was changed. He suffered discomfort and pain, as well as sleep issues. His diet was restricted. He had to eat small meals regularly and avoid fruit and vegetables.
He became breathless even when exerting himself mildly. He could not lift anything.
The man was constantly very tired, requiring a stick to walk as he was unsteady on his feet.
He was restricted in his driving and was registered as disabled.
The claimant's activities were reduced. He was unable to take walks, swim or ride a bike as he had before. He was unable to return to work.
He was forced to move house as he could no longer cope in a two storey house. Care would be needed for the rest of his life.
Independent medical reports were obtained from a consultant colorectal surgeon. The surgeon advised that the surgeons carrying out the second operation did not have sufficient competence to perform such a difficult procedure.
It was likely they would have realised during the operation the complexity and should have called for senior assistance rather than proceeding.
It was alleged that the hospital had been negligent insofar as the first surgery had damaged his small bowel and the second surgery had caused major damage.
The surgeons should have halted the second operation when the complexity became apparent and arranged suitable specialist care.
The negligence caused irreparable damage to the claimant's bowel. He would be left with a permanent colostomy.
He would suffer from breathlessness and limited mobility needing care for the rest of his life.
Conclusion and settlement
Liability was admitted and the matter settled without progressing to a Court hearing.
£475,000 was accepted by way of an out of Court settlement.
£80,000 of the damages was attributed to "pain, suffering and loss of amenity."
An amount of £215,000 was accepted for past and future care.
Earnings the claimant lost prior to normal retirement age were awarded at £100,000.
In addition £40,000 was awarded for property expenses.
The remainder was allocated to repayment of benefits received and equipment needed in future.
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About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
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