A grandmother who says a medical blunder left her looking ‘like the elephant man’ has been awarded a six-figure payout from the hospital trust.
Sheila Dalton was admitted to Aintree Hospital in Liverpool for an operation to remove her gallbladder, but during surgery doctors failed to spot that they had perforated her bowel.
As a result the 67-year-old developed an abdominal abscess and was in intensive care for eight days after suffering complications including septicaemia.
She underwent several more procedures as medics tried to repair the damage before being allowed home around two months later.
But even then she was bedridden, reliant on carers, and three years on says she still rarely leaves the house except to attend hospital appointments.
As well as significant scarring, she also has a hernia and faces further surgery in the future.
Prior to the blunder in December 2012, retired civil servant Sheila from Whiston was a volunteer with several local charities and community groups.
She enjoyed an active social life and regularly drove to see her daughter-in-law and three grandsons in Buckinghamshire. Son child Marc lived in Poland, but recently moved to London.
She said: “Sometimes I feel so down and upset because I can’t do anything. I’ve completely lost my independence.
“I was incontinent for two years and in the end I just stopped going out.
“I’ve got no abdominal muscles so I can’t drive and can’t sit for prolonged periods. If I sit in one place for more than 30 minutes, because of where all the scar tissue is I’m in pain.
“I can’t go up and down stairs and I have to use a walking stick outside as even a very slight incline puts pressure on my abdomen.
“It’s impacted on my social life tremendously. I have lost all my self-confidence.
“I lost nearly three stone in weight. I went from a size 14 to a size eight and even a size eight was big on me.
“I was 63 when I went into hospital, but by the time they had finished with me, I looked about 90, I was just like a skeleton.”
She added: “I have even had to change the type of clothes I wear because of the scarring and the way my stomach protrudes.
“I have never had any issues with my body before, but now I look like the elephant man.”
Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability after law firm Slater and Gordon launched legal action on Sheila’s behalf.
The Trust has now apologised and settled the case for an undisclosed, six-figure sum.
Sheila said: “It’s in a trust fund for my future care, but to be honest it was never about the money.
“Nothing, no amount of money, can compensate for the loss of my quality of life.”
Her lawyer, Nina Sahu, a clinical negligence specialist at Slater and Gordon, added: “During the course of the gallbladder surgery, surgeons should have checked there was no damage to the bowel.
“The failure to do so turned what should have been a routine operation into this horrific ordeal.
“Sheila has to live with the consequences of that mistake and will probably never fully recover, but all she has ever wanted is an apology and assurances that lessons will be learned to stop this happening to anyone else.”