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Paul Sankey: Aortic Aneurysms: surgeon banned for botched operations

I read that the surgeon with the worst death rates for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA) has been banned by the GMC. Whereas the national average for the death rate from this form of surgery is around 4%, the death rate from his operations was 29%. This is a staggeringly high rate.
I have dealt with a number of claims where people have had the serious condition misdiagnosed. AAA is a condition where the walls of the aorta – the main blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart – become weak and balloon out. Often the condition is only discovered during investigations for other conditions. However sometimes the aneurysm bursts. This is a very serious surgical emergency and unless patients undergo surgery they will die.
Most of the claims I have dealt with concern people whose AAA are missed in emergency departments or medical assessment units. The criticisms are usually for failing to make the diagnosis and get them to surgery quickly. However once they get to surgery there is a high chance of saving their lives. The fact that this particular surgeon had such a poor record is somewhat ironic – usually expect that if the patients get to the surgeon in time they are safe.
This story is in fact worse because the surgeon made errors with other types of operations and then he lied to an Inquest about the death of one of his patients.
People are often critical of an excessive interest in statistics – statistics can mislead. Surgeons who undertake the riskiest operations or work in an area where health is unusually poor may come out with figures which do not reflect the quality of their work. Here however is a surgeon who not only did a bad job but then tried to cover it up.Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.