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Patient sues over “life-changing” surgical complications

Patient sues over “life-changing” surgical complications

Friday 14 February 2020

Patient sues over “life-changing” surgical complications


A patient who suffered "life-changing" health problems, and now risks developing cancer after being operated on in a way he says he didn't consent to, is taking legal action against the Health Minister.

Mr A*, who lost his bowel function and has had to use an ostomy bag since undergoing the procedure, which he said has also affected his mental health, is now making a claim for compensation.

While the Health Minister admits a "breach of duty" for the "inappropriate" surgery, which took place in one go rather than in three stages as had been agreed, he contends that the patient may have suffered some complications anyway.

The case is laid out in documents currently before the Royal Court, detailing both parties' arguments.

Mr A says that he began to suffer with a health problem some years ago, but, “due to embarrassment”, did not visit his doctor and attempted to treat the issue with over-the-counter medication for several years.

When the problem escalated, Mr A sought medical help and was referred to a senior surgeon at the General Hospital. This Consultant told Mr A that he would need surgery to treat the problem, but that it would be carried out “in a staged fashion, over a number of procedures” rather than all in one go.

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Pictured: The documents relating to this case are before the Royal Court.

Mr A claims that he was “content to undergo surgery on that basis”, but in fact it was a different surgeon – whom Mr A had not been introduced to – who carried out the surgery in a single procedure rather than in stages as had been agreed between the patient and the other Consultant.

In the document laying out the civil claim, Mr A's legal representative, Advocate David Benest, states that he “was never informed” that this was going to happen and “neither was he informed of any increased risk of developing” other health complications due to this decision.

On his account, Mr A then suffered several serious problems with his bowel after the surgery that eventually resulted in a referral to a specialist at Southampton General Hospital.

Ultimately, he was fitted with a ostomy bag and tests showed that he had some pre-cancerous cells. It’s also asserted that Mr A began to suffer with anxiety and depression as a result of the complications.

In the aftermath of the surgery, Mr A was presented with various options – all of which either involved the continued use of a ostomy bag or undergoing extensive surgical procedures. 

It’s stated in his civil case that he “remains under medical care… and his prognosis… is uncertain."

On behalf of Mr A, Advocate Benest argues that both the single procedure approach and the execution of the surgery itself caused “substantially more disruption” to the affected area and “substantially increased the risk of developing” complications.

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Pictured: The patient alleges that the Health Department failed to fulfil the duty of care to which he was entitled.

Advocate Benest also claims that the Health department “failed to obtain [Mr A’s] informed consent for the surgery," as it was carried out in a manner he didn’t agree to and “failed, in all the circumstances, to treat [Mr A] with reasonable care and skill.” 

Elaborating on the impact of this ordeal on his client, Advocate Benest states: “He has suffered very significant pain, discomfort and psychiatric symptoms… The injuries have impacted on his working… and have prevented him engaging in an intimate relationship with his partner. Both his employment and his relationship are at risk.”

Advocate Benest adds that “his social life has evaporated due to the reduction in confidence” arising from the health problems.

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Pictured: The civil case will be considered by the Royal Court.

Responding to Mr A's damages claim, the Health Minister - represented by Advocate Darren Woodside - admits that the decision to carry out the procedure “en-bloc was inappropriate” and that it “should have been… in a staged process whereby [Mr A] underwent repeated surgery."

Although he doesn't admit to all of Mr A's claims, however, the Minister states: “...it is admitted that the inappropriate decision and surgery… amounted to a breach of duty for which [the Health Minister] is liable.” 

Although the Minister agrees that had the surgery been carried out in stages, Mr A “would probably have avoided [the complications] to the extent” he did, he nonetheless contends that “some degree… would have been suffered in any event."

The case continues.

*The patient’s name and some medical details have been omitted by Express to protect the individual’s privacy.

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Posted by Scott Mills on
another hospital calamity. Anyone in the hospital with a 1st class medical degree?
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