On 21 June 2011, Claire, aged 29 at the time, was at work when she started to suffer from severe pain in her stomach. She referred herself to UCLH and was admitted at 13:20. After being triaged by a nurse, Claire was seen by a Senior House Officer in emergency medicine at 14:30. He noted that Claire was suffering from severe abdominal pain and that she felt nauseous. He diagnosed Claire as suffering from constipation or a urinary tract infection but was kept in for observations and prescribed painkillers.
Claire was seen by the same doctor again at 16:30. He noted no improvement in Claire's pain levels. He felt that there was a gynaecological explanation for Claire's symptoms and requested a gynaecological opinion. Claire was subsequently looked after by the gynaecology team for the next 24 hours during which time they ruled out any gynaecological explanation for Claire's symptoms. During this time Claire's pain levels significantly increased and her blood tests revealed markedly raised CRP and WCC counts.
Claire was transferred to the surgical team for further investigation and at 18:45 on 22 June 2011 the surgical SHO diagnosed Claire as suffering from likely appendicitis. In spite of the diagnosis being made, it was not until approximately 14:00 on 23 June 2011 that Claire was transferred for surgery. At surgery it was noted that Claire's appendix had perforated and she was suffering from significant peritonitis.
Claire required further treatment at UCLH until 01 July 2011 when she returned to her family home to recuperate. Claire subsequently required two further admissions to hospital to deal with post operative complications. She continued to suffer from severe abdominal pain until May 2012 when she required further keyhole surgery as a result of adhesions.
As a result of her ill health Claire was unable to return to work until 24 October 2011, at which time she returned on a part time basis for a further two months. Claire subsequently had to take on a non client facing role as she continued to suffer from ongoing symptoms, and she subsequently missed out on promotion at work.
Expert evidence was obtained from experts in the fields of general practice, gynaecology and general surgery. It was alleged that having made the diagnosis of appendicitis at 18:45 on 22 June 2011 it was negligent to then wait a further 20 hours before operating. Furthermore, at the time that the diagnosis had been made, Claire's appendix had not perforated, and had she received prompt treatment, her appendix would not have perforated and she would have avoided a number of the complications that subsequently arose.
Proceedings were issued against UCLH following which an offer of £50,000 was made in settlement of Claire's claim, which she accepted.
At the end of the case Claire commented: "Going through the experience I did was very difficult, especially knowing it could have been avoided with the right and timely treatment. It was a very scary experience, followed by a lengthy and painful recovery period. When I finally began to gain my strength, I knew I had to do something to raise awareness of what had happened and hope that they deal with the issues to prevent it happening to anyone else.
I was referred to Mark Bowman of Field Fisher Waterhouse purely by chance as I really didn't know which way to turn or who to trust to help me. When I met Mark he was very clear on the process, the time frames and what needed to happen. He was very approachable and put my mind at ease.
On every meeting or interaction, he just continued to exceed my expectations, his efficiency, attention to detail, accuracy, professionalism and ability to synthesise information really impressed me. He did all the legwork to collect the information from multiple sources, analysed the information and organised it so effectively that it took all of the stress off myself so I could focus on my recovery.
He is a truly excellent lawyer and I honestly could not fault how he dealt with the whole case and the support he gave me throughout the process from start to finish. If you do unfortunately find yourself in a medical situation where you may need legal advice then I would not hesitate to recommend Mark to act on your behalf."
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