The Royal College of Surgeons have published a report entitled "The Higher Risk General Surgical Patient: towards improved care for a forgotten group"
It highlights that whilst planned surgeries are extremely well executed and carry minimal risk, we fall far short many Countries when it comes to the complication rate with emergency (or unplanned) surgeries.
Emergency cardiac surgeries are excluded from the report as these always have intensive care back up and thus have a much lower complication rate. The complication rate for an emergency abdominal operation is 20% compared with 2-3% for a cardiac case.
This report brings home the importance of having better access to critical care and improved post-operative care. It shows that hospital planners need to better appreciate how the NHS system falls short.
I am instructed on a number of cases where patients have undergone emergency surgery have been moved from recovery directly onto wards. Post-operative complications arose and the patients were ill-placed to receive life-saving treatment. We will be able to identify clear breaches of duty in these cases and I hope to recover damages for the clients (or their bereaved families).
However, legal redress is not always available and we often have to decline instructions advising potential clients that a recognised risk has unfortunately materialised. There is scope to reduce these risks.
I can only hope that the NHS take note and implement the recommendations. The disparity in complication rates between cardiac and non-cardiac cases is embarrassing. If other countries can do it - why can't we?Iona Millais 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 email@example.com and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.