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£90,000 Settlement For Client Who Suffered Due to Surgical Negligence
30 June 2020
Patient receives a five figure sum following the delay in recognising an anastomatic leak resulting in further surgery and a worse outcome:
What happened: Our client was admitted to hospital for surgery following complicated diverticular disease, having suffered episodes of acute diverticulitis and a localised perforation on one occasion (diverticular disease and diverticulitis are related digestive conditions that affect the large intestine or bowel). They underwent laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy, which is an operation to remove part of the left side of the colon (known as the sigmoid colon), and this initially appeared to have been uneventful. However, in the post-operative period they developed symptoms which led to the diagnosis of an anastomatic leak, which is a leak of fluid from the area of the colon that had been surgically re-joined. This necessitated an emergency operation for peritonitis (an infection of the inner lining of the tummy).
Unfortunately our client then had a full thickness abdominal wall dehiscence (i.e. a burst abdomen where the wound fails to heal and re-opens after surgery) and had to return to theatre for further surgery to repair the abdominal wall. Following this, additional further surgery was required as there was necrosis of the laparotomy wound, meaning that the cells and tissue around the wound had begun to die.
Our client went on to develop small bowel fistulation (abnormal openings in the small bowel), which required the instigation of intravenous feeding to bypass the usual process of eating and digestion, and referral for further surgery for the excision of the fistulas and establishment of a formal ileostomy (a procedure in which the damaged part is removed from the small intestine and the cut end diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall).
The effect on our client: Our client underwent numerous surgical procedures which would, on balance, have been avoided without the delay in diagnosing the anastomotic leak. They suffered a more significant septic infection and complications, which led to a far poorer functional recovery than otherwise would have been expected.
Due to the significant complications they were left with dense adhesions (scar tissue) within the abdomen meaning there was a significant risk of further bowel damage should further surgery be required.
Our client has therefore been left with a permanent colostomy. With appropriate treatment they would have required an end colostomy but would have recovered from that procedure within 8-12 weeks. They would then have had the end colostomy reversed in a straightforward procedure.
How TRUE Solicitors were able to help: We brought proceedings on the basis that there was failure to recognise anastomotic failure following the laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy. Our client’s post-operative observations should have raised suspicions of anastomatic failure, triggering a CT scan, which would have demonstrated the cause of the symptoms earlier than was the case. Our client would then have been returned to theatre sooner than they were, which would have reduced the degree of abdominal contamination and reduced the likelihood of the subsequent complications.
Medical evidence was obtained which was supportive of our client’s case and Court proceedings were commenced. Liability was subsequently admitted by the Defendant in the Defence, which allowed us to commence settlement negotiations. Agreement was reached shortly thereafter.
Level of settlement achieved: £90,000