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03 September 2012
In this Medical Negligence case a 54 year old woman underwent an endoscopy under sedation to investigate gastric ulcers.
During the procedure the surgeon saw what he thought was a rare form of tumour, a gastro-intestinal stromal tumour, and attempted to take a biopsy. In fact it was a varix (a swollen blood vessel). In removing the tissue the surgeon caused a massive and life-threatening haemorrhage.
This was an extremely frightening experience for a conscious patient. Attempts to control the haemorrhage were only partially successful and the woman was transferred first to ITU and then to another hospital for surgery to repair the blood vessels.
Although surgery was successful, a few days after discharge she developed empyema, an infection of the pleura, the area surrounding the lungs. She was readmitted to hospital and had to undergo further major surgery to her chest to remove infected tissue - thoracotomy and decortication.
Further investigations revealed an underlying clotting disorder - essential thrombocythaemia - which was responsible for thrombosis (blockage) of the portal vein (part of the blood supply of the liver) and the underlying cause of her varices.
She was unable to return to her work for 15 months. She worked part-time for 6 months, gradually increasing her hours to full-time. However she continued to suffer from pain, restricted movements and fatigue and after a year retired on medical grounds.
Investigating liability was complex because of our client’s underlying medical condition and reports were obtained from experts in surgery, haematology, hepatology and psychiatry.
In response to a letter of claim, liability was admitted. The claim was resolved after the issue of proceedings, with the Defendants paying medical negligence compensation in the amount of £165,000.
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