A woman severely allergic to penicillin has been awarded six-figure damages after an anaesthetist at the private Runnymede hospital near Guildford injected her with the drug Amoxicillin, causing catastrophic injury.
54-year-old Ms T, who lost her job as a British Airways long-haul stewardess as a result, repeatedly told medical staff at the hospital how dangerous penicillin was to her prior to a minor gynaecological operation in February 2014, and was wearing a red wrist bad warning of her allergy.
Dr Banerjee, the surgeon, and Dr Jordan the anaesthetist both questioned Ms T as to what would happen to her if she had penicillin.
"My answer to both of them was that I had been told by doctors following reactions in the past that I could die," she explained. "Some people are mildly allergic to penicillin but I am dangerously so, something I repeatedly told them.
"I now know that when I was under general anaesthetic, they injected one gram of penicillin straight into my vein."
The day after she was discharged from the hospital following her operation, Ms T's face and hands began to swell so badly she couldn't move her fingers and areas of skin appeared burnt. She phoned Dr Banerjee but he denied he had administered anything to cause the reaction and asked if she had changed her washing powder.
Over the next few days, Ms T became increasingly unwell, suffered a raging fever and was covered in lumps. Her neighbour took her to A&E at St Peters, Chertsey where a doctor suggested ringing Dr Banerjee but decided as it was the weekend, he shouldn't disturb him. Ms T was injected with steroids and sent home.
The next day she was vomiting, shaking uncontrollably and could hardly walk. Terrified, she went back to A&E where she was admitted. "I was very alarmed when Dr Banerjee visited the next morning to hear he had still not passed over the list of drugs he had used during my procedure."
Eventually, while she was in terrible pain, covered in blisters with her head swollen to the size of a football and she could hardly see, the anaesthetist, Dr Anderson, visited and finally admitted he had injected her with penicillin and that he was sorry. He also told Ms T that he had never seen such a violent reaction and that should something similar happen in the future, she would likely not survive. He put the decision to use penicillin down to human error.
The next time Dr Banerjee visited he added that Ms T's stage 4 allergy was the most dangerous since it manifested itself slowly once the patient has left hospital.
Finally, after 10 days in hospital, Ms T went home, still in considerable pain because of the swelling and blistering and traumatised by the experience. The fatty tissue build up around her neck prevented her from sleeping and she felt constantly exhausted. The steroids meant she put on a considerable amount of weight.
"I'm not a vain person but I was deeply upset by my appearance. I had a huge swollen neck, face and torso, with purple scars and blotches on my legs because of the broken blisters and burnt skin.
Following the allergic reaction, Ms T was unable to return to work for six months. Although she later tried to return on ground duties, because she could no longer fly, she was medically retired by BA a year later.
"I loved my job and had been doing it for 37 years. I was devastated to be laid off and suffered terrible depression. I'm still not sure what to do next and how to find another job.
"I would simply like to understand why Dr Banerjee and Dr Anderson thought it was ok to inject me with something I repeatedly told them I was severely allergic to. Why did they not listen?
Ms T complained to the GMC and instructed Fieldfisher to pursue a claim in an effort to find out the truth.
"I just felt that everyone had lied to me about what had happened. I was offered no support and never received an apology for the awful trauma they put me through.
"Two-and-a-half years later I'm just beginning to recover but having to take steroids for so long has completely changed my body, I hardly recognise myself."
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