19 August 2016
Laparoscopic Surgery: The Risks of Medical Negligence
We have been instructed on numerous cases in the past involving people who have undergone open operations and, as a result, suffered longer term effects, which could be avoided if the keyhole had been done correctly and/ or there had been a full discussion with the patient.
What is a Laparoscopic Procedure?
Laparoscopic surgery – also referred to as keyhole and minimally invasive surgery – is a procedure that avoids large incisions due to the use of a laparoscope, a small tube that has a light source and a camera, which relays images of the inside of the abdomen or pelvis to a television monitor.
Laparoscopy is commonly used in gynaecology, urology and gastroenterology and is usually carried out under general anaesthesia. The advantages of laparoscopic procedures include a shorter stay in hospital for patients, a faster recovery time, less pain and bleeding following the operation and reduced scarring.
What is a Laparotomy?
A laparotomy is a major surgical procedure, which involves more potential risks than laparoscopic procedures. It involves an incision being made in the abdominal wall, allowing the surgeon access in order to identify and fix any complications that may have occurred. Laparotomies are commonly used to repair bleeding, blockages, or holes in the bowel or stomach.
Following a laparotomy there is a chance of increased pain and swelling and adhesions (scar tissue) forming in the abdomen, which may potentially cause bowel obstruction. Incisions within the abdomen can also create weakness which can ultimately form a hernia.
It could be said that any surgery involves an element of risk. But where a medical professional is able to perform a procedure that poses less risk and fewer potential complications then this should be offered to a patient as an option. In all such cases it is critical that a fully informed discussions takes place with the patient to ensure that all the risks of the surgery are discussed and that in due course the patient makes an informed choice as to their preferred option.
As the NHS comes under increasing financial pressure, we anticipate that there may be a push to perform more laparoscopic procedures, which are more cost effective to the NHS. Such procedures can be beneficial to the patient but it is critical that laparoscopic procedures are only performed in appropriate cases and by appropriately skilled surgeons.
Ian Cohen is a clinical and medical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Liverpool.
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