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Case Study

Damages for wife and three young children after father's death caused by negligent post op care

Brendan was 45 when he died at St Marks Hospital on 26 July 2001. He was survived by his wife and three young children.

Brendan had suffered from ulcerative colitis and in April 2001 he had been admitted to St Marks Hospital to undergo a restorative procto-colectomy and ileostomy.

Brendan was advised that with successful surgery his health would have returned to near normal and he would have a normal life expectancy.

Brendan worked as an engineer for British Telecom. He was discharged from hospital on 9 May 2001. At that date, he still had a significant stoma output and he was not eating. No advice was given by the hospital to his GP for continuing care.

Sadly, Brendan deteriorated at home even though he was being seen by the stoma nurse and his GP. On 2 June, Brendan was admitted to Harold Wood Hospital with a presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia, wound infection and oral thrush.

After some 20 days of admission during which the doctors attempted to stabilise him, he was transferred back to St Marks Hospital for specialist review.

Following various diagnostic tests on Thursday 19 July, Brendan underwent an examination under anaesthesia and reversal of the ileostomy.

After the surgery, Brendan deteriorated and became tachycardic, hypertensive with significant pain to such an extent that he was unable to speak to his wife on the telephone.

This suggested that Brendan had an abdominal infection. No investigation was carried out to establish the cause of this until 23 July when an emergency laparotomy was performed late in the day.

Post operatively, Brendan was admitted to the intensive care unit. He developed multi-system failure and died on 26 July.

Paul McNeil investigated a medical negligence claim on behalf of Brendan's family.

We asserted that St Marks Hospital was negligent in discharging Brendan on 9 May 2001 without adequate follow up. 

We argued that their treatment of Brendan on or after 21 July was negligent because the doctors failed to investigate the cause of his swinging pyrexia, tachycardia, hypertension, no urine output and pain.

We also alleged that with appropriate treatment after discharge and/or appropriate investigations on or after 21 July Brendan would have recovered to lead a normal life.

Paul McNeil issued proceedings on behalf of the family on 10 April 2003.

The defendant admitted liability for failing to ensure that Brendan's abdominal surgery was adequately followed up after his discharge from hospital.

The hospital also admitted that it had failed to diagnose peritonitis on 22 July and failed to perform surgery on 22 July.

There were subsidiary issues in relation to Brendan's ability to work following the surgery, although the matter was eventually settled on 13 May 2004 for £250,000.

The case was conducted with the assistance of Public Funding. 

Contact us

For further information about surgery negligence claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 020 7861 4019 or email


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.

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