Andrea suffered from gallstones. On 6 July, she underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The operation appeared to proceed without complication.
After the procedure Andrea suffered from abdominal pain. Her haemoglobin (red blood) levels fell and an ultrasound scan carried out the next day confirmed that she was bleeding internally.
An emergency laparotomy was performed, where it was discovered that the cystic artery was only partly clipped by the clip occluding the cystic duct. During the operation, the artery was freed and tied, the operation note being titled “bleeding cystic artery.”
Following the laparotomy, Andrea continued to suffer severe abdominal pain requiring substantial pain relief and also developed severe constipation as a result of the high level of pain killing drugs needed.
This led to a further operation under general anaesthetic for manual evacuation of Andrea's bowels.
As a result of the laparotomy, Andrea continues to suffer from on-going abdominal pain and the scar is particularly sensitive. She also suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and became clinically depressed.
Andrea instructed us to pursue a surgery negligence claim against the hospital.
We alleged that the failure to clip the cystic artery was negligent and that if the artery had been properly occluded at the laparoscopy, she would not have undergone the laparotomy, nor suffered the on-going abdominal pain or sensitivity in her scar.
Causation in relation to the IBS was more difficult as there were entries in her medical records suggesting that she had suffered abdominal symptoms in the past, although there was no for diagnosis of IBS.
It is accepted that IBS is affected by “life events” and therefore, we argued that had her treatment proceeded as originally planned, she would not have suffered as severely.
The claim was issued in July 2002. The trial was listed for December 2003. Following the experts meeting, we negotiated a settlement of £24,000, plus costs.
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