We secured compensation from Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust for a client who had a small piece of plastic tubing left inside her after weight loss surgery.
The claimant had a gastric band fitted in 2007 which was then converted to a gastric bypass. Following this, an abscess developed and needed to be drained. In January 2010 the claimant had an abdominoplasty but the wound became infected and broke down. By March, she had developed a lump in her abdominal wall which was thought to be a fat deposit, but in 2011, it was still there so the claimant was sent for CT scans. These showed that there was a piece of clear plastic tubing, one inch in length, inside her abdomen.
As a result of this retained tubing, the claimant had developed abdominal infections and required further surgery to remove the tubing and repair the damage caused. She instructed us to investigate her claim.
Given the evidence in the case, Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that a piece of plastic tubing had been left in her abdominal wall and made a very low offer to settle, which was rejected.
We instructed an independent consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon to prepare reports on causation and condition and prognosis. The claimant was keen to settle the case without the need to issue court proceedings so, once we had received the supportive expert evidence and valued the claim, we made an offer to the NHSLA. After two months of negotiation, we achieved a successful settlement for the claimant, for a significantly higher figure than was originally offered by the defendant trust.
Our clinical negligence team is currently running a number of retained product cases which involve various medical items being left inside patients as a result of surgical error. Such cases are considered 'never events' because there should be systems in place to prevent these circumstances occurring.
When investigating a retained product case, it is important to consider all possible aspects of the claim and we have significant experience in doing this. As an example, if infection develops and further surgery is required in a woman of child-bearing age, it is important to consider the full impact, such as the development of adhesions which may affect fertility and significantly impact on the value of the claim.