Surgical negligence claims
Every day thousands of operations are performed successfully, but in a minority of cases carelessness or lack of attention can lead to mistakes that can result in injury, disability or even wrongful death.
Last updated on September 6th, 2021
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In many cases the effects of surgical mistakes can be life changing and therefore achieving maximum compensation is essential to cover after-care costs long into the future. Such costs could include rehabilitation, re-education or training and the provision of specialist transport and equipment.
A traumatic incident at Lewisham Hospital during December 2006, due to substandard care from hospital staff, caused pain and distress to a baby and left his mother suffering from post-traumatic stress.
The baby – Harry Bartlett– was three months old at the time of the incident, during which he had a procedure at the hospital known as pyoloromyotomy, carried out under general anaesthetic.
The operation went well with no complications, but after the surgery Harry went into laryngospasm, an uncontrolled and involuntary muscular contraction of the laryngeal cords. He was immediately treated with a muscle relaxant, administered via an IV line, which was then flushed so maintenance fluids could be given to him on the ward.
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After just 30 minutes on the children’s surgical ward, a nurse flushed his drip to make sure there were no blockages. Unbeknown to her, however, his IV contained muscle relaxant residue that was then flushed back into Harry’s body, causing him to go into respiratory arrest.
Harry’s mother, Julie, knew instantly that something was amiss. It looked like Harry was fitting, so she urgently called out to the nurse, who told her he was ‘simply trying to catch his breath’.
As Harry appeared lifeless, with his eyes closed and lips beginning to turn blue, Julie continued to express her concerns and after two minutes a doctor arrived. The doctor immediately said Harry was not getting enough oxygen, hit the crash button and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Julie was instructed to sit in the waiting room, at which point she believed her son had died. Calling Harry’s father to inform him of his death, she began to plan his funeral in her mind. Fifteen minutes later, a senior anesthetist and a doctor told Julie that her baby had indeed suffered a respiratory arrest and while he was still with them, he had been put on a ventilator as he couldn’t yet breathe for himself. Harry was kept in the pediatric intensive care unit for three hours until he had recovered sufficiently and was able to breathe for himself.
On the evening of the incident, the senior anesthetist expressed his most sincere apologies to Julie, saying he was ‘sorry for what happened’ and’ felt totally responsible’.
Harry was discharged from Lewisham Hospital three days later and while he had not suffered from any long term medical conditions as a result of the respiratory arrest, he had been subjected to painful and invasive procedures.
Six years after the incident a medical report stated that Harry was a healthy boy whose brain was undamaged by the potentially brain damaging episode. Nevertheless, a recent report stated that as result of substandard care, he had suffered unnecessary pain and distress overnight. It was for these reasons that Express Solicitors secured Harry £6,000 in compensation for clinical negligence.
Although Harry recovered well, his mother continued to suffer from severe psychological disturbances due to the trauma of believing her son had died. Following the incident, she became overly fearful that something bad would happen to Harry and would not let anyone else look after him.
Mrs Bartlett was referred to a clinical psychologist with post-traumatic stress and to compensate her suffering, Express Solicitors helped her bring a successful claim against Lewisham Hospital for £18,000.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured due to a mistake during surgery then Express Solicitors can help.