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Following a series of catastrophic events at the privately-run Portland Hospital in central London, Jonathan Zimmern recovered over £100,000 in damages for his client MW, despite the defendant’s refusal to admit liability.

MW first attended the hospital, which specialises in maternity and paediatric care, to deliver her baby son in September 2014. Because of a delay in delivery, she reluctantly agreed to a C-section in preference over a forceps delivery. After being discharged home with her new baby, MW continued to bleed for more than six weeks and eventually her original surgeon, Dr Gibb, discovered a 2cm piece of placenta had been retained during the C-section.

During the subsequent ERPC (Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception) to remove the piece of placenta, generally a fairly minor procedure, Dr Gibb perforated MW’s uterus and damaged her bowel to such an extent that a length of it was left hanging from her body and a colorectal surgeon had to form a temporary stoma, necessitating the use of a stoma bag, which remained in place for six months.

MW described the moment she came around from the general anaesthetic and saw that she had a stoma (used to collect faeces from the body) as “the worst moment of my life”. Not only was she in terrible pain and her husband and mother-in-law were in complete shock, Dr Gibb told her that she was “lucky to be alive”. MW was convinced that she was dying and told her husband to find another wife to care for their baby.

MW continued to be extremely distressed by having to use and change a stoma bag. It dramatically affected her relationship with her new-born baby, her husband and her entire family, destroyed her social life and seriously damaged her reputation at work since she frequently needed to take time off. For the first months following the botched surgery, MW was effectively housebound and suffered debilitating depression.

After two more surgeries to reverse the original bowel procedure, MW finally had the stoma bag removed in May 2015 and hoped to begin rebuilding her life. Unfortunately, she has been left with unsightly scarring, bouts of abdominal pain and cramping, an ongoing increased need to open her bowels and psychiatric problems. She also possibly has fertility issues that could affect her ability to have more children.

MW believes the terrible consequences of the surgical mistakes meant she did not get a promotion at work. She still finds it difficult to socialise with friends, getting upset if she hears that one is pregnant or has recently given birth. Ultimately, MW’s self-esteem has been damaged beyond repair and the associated problems continue to impact her relationships.

MW instructed Jonathan to investigate her claim. He instructed experts in Obstetrics and Colorectal Surgery who were highly critical of the treatment provided. He wrote a Letter of Claim outlining these criticisms. Despite the indefensible nature of the treatment that was provided, the Defendant continued to deny liability for MW's injuries for over 18 months. A settlement was, however, eventually agreed for £107,000 but only after months of unnecessary argument.

Upon completion of the case, MW said:

"Despite the impact the event had on our family, I was so happy to have had Jonathan on my side during this process. He is very professional, communication was quick and accurate but above all, Jonathan was understanding and empathic. His advice has always been very well considered, taking into account pros and cons and different scenarios. Jonathan is very patient and explained things twice when needed. We are satisfied with the result which would never have been reached without Jonathan's hard work".

Image credit: By Chmee2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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