Use of the wrong equipment at the Whittington Hospital causes peritonitis and gangrene | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Use of the wrong equipment at the Whittington Hospital causes peritonitis and gangrene

ZW was admitted to Whittington Hospital for treatment of an underlying condition of intestinal dysmotility.

Her condition was not particularly unusual and can be managed with the temporary placement of a feeding jejunostomy to be inserted in January 2012.

Due to a negligent mistake on the part of the surgical team instead of inserting the jejunostomy tube into her intestines just below the stomach, a PEG tube was inserted instead. This led to her developing peritonitis. There was also a delay in recognising the onset of the peritonitis with the result that by the time she had salvaged surgery she had already developed sepsis and went on to develop multi-organ failure. 

ZW was admitted to the intensive care unit where she was prescribed lifesaving drugs. A side effect of the powerful drugs to treat the septicaemic shock restricted the blood supply to her hands causing gangrene of her fingers.  Sadly she lost 7 fingers which were partially amputated.

She now has permanent pain and disability of the hands; she has lost sensation in her finger tips that do remain.  She has extensive abdominal scarring and the pain is unremitting.  She also developed significant psychological injury.  She has developed ongoing problems as a result of the surgery to treat the peritonitis including adhesions that have created repeated small bowel obstructions requiring more surgical treatment.  She also has scarring to her neck where an abscess formed as a result of the cannulas were inserted into her neck while she was in intensive care and her whole outlook on life and perception of herself and her appearance has been permanently altered negatively. 

Limited liability was admitted after service of proceedings. The Claimant sought to enter judgement on the basis of partial admissions. The Defendant refused. At a contested hearing the Claimant was successful and judgement was entered. The case is now proceeding to a quantum only trial which will take place in June 2017.

In the meantime a small interim payment has been obtained which GZ has used to employ assistance in the home, purchase some equipment to assist her and to pay for both psychological treatment and specialist hand therapy to the aim of desensitising somewhat the fingertips.

Caron identified allegations of negligence early on, and ran the case tactically to obtain an early admission on the best terms for her client.

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