On 12 November 1998, Jane, a qualified nurse, underwent a vaginal hysterectomy and pelvic floor repair following a history of menorrhagia and urinary problems.
During surgery, access to the wound was found to be “extremely difficult” (the vagina was noted to be “long and narrow”) and as a result an episiotomy was carried out.
Post operatively, Jane complained of abdominal pain left loin pain and pain on passing urine. Jane underwent a laparotomy.
This identified that a suture had been placed in or near Jane's left ureter during the original procedure and was causing a blockage. The suture was removed, the left ureter divided and re-implanted in the bladder.
County Court proceedings were issued in October 2001 by other solicitors. Liability was denied and the defendants made a subsequent payment of £10,000 into Court.
The defendant contended that a claim for ongoing lost earnings was precluded by a history of urinary incontinence.
The claim was referred to us who took over in July 2002. Following further investigations, the action was transferred to the High Court and amended to include a claim for psychiatric injury.
The case was set down for trial in May 2003 and fixed for trial on 1 March 2004. After exchange of witness statements, witness summons’ were served on three of the hospital’s doctors involved in the surgery/follow up, their evidence being potentially favourable.
A new expert gynaecologist was instructed. He was not only critical of the initial decision to attempt to perform the hysterectomy vaginally (rather than abdominally because of the size of the uterus) but also the subsequent decision to proceed with the vaginal hysterectomy once the surgeon had established that access was difficult and the vagina was “long and narrow”.
In January 2004, the defendant made a Part 36 Offer of £95,000 including repayable CRU of £30,000.
Following further negotiations and a round table meeting with counsel, the claim was settled at £180,000. The case was funded by a legal expenses policy.
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