We have recently settled a claim on behalf of a client against a private consultant gastroenterologist at the BUPA Cromwell Hospital in London for alleged failings in the management of a gallstone.
Our client started experiencing problems with pain in the upper right side of his abdomen in May 2015, so he attended his GP for advice. The GP attributed the pain to a potential gallstone as his symptoms suggested this was the cause, and he was referred privately to the consultant gastroenterologist as he had the benefit of health insurance with his employer at the time.
Following an initial appointment with the consultant, our client was referred for further tests, which included an endoscopy and an MRI scan. The MRI scan confirmed the presence of a 3cm stone within the neck of the gallbladder.
The consultant subsequently advised our client that the gallstone was “benign” and was not the cause of his abdominal pain. She described it as being “too big to move into the ducts”, which is “when they cause damage”. Our client was also advised that his liver function tests were normal, which was another reason to rule out the gallstone as being the cause of any problems. He was informed that his symptoms were due to “gastritis” and the consultant recommended lifestyle changes, including “light meals at night”, although this made no difference to his symptoms.
Unfortunately, our client continued to suffer with upper abdominal pains intermittently over the following year. The pains gradually increased in frequency and severity, which had a significant impact on his quality of life and ability to work. He attempted to manage his symptoms with medication and alternative therapies but found no relief. He was repeatedly reassured by his consultant that the gallstone was not the cause of his symptoms because of its size and the fact that there was no evidence of liver abnormalities in his blood results.
Our client grew increasingly concerned about the persistent pains so he sought a second opinion through his GP. He was seen by a general surgeon who advised him that the problem was “certainly” due to the gallstone as he had “such classic symptoms”. He subsequently underwent surgery to remove the gallstone and gallbladder (a cholecystectomy), and after a period of recovery, his abdominal symptoms completely resolved.
Understandably, our client was unhappy about the advice he received from the consultant gastroenterologist, particularly as the MRI scan in 2015 confirmed the presence of a gallstone. He was concerned that he had suffered unnecessarily for a prolonged period of time with significant symptoms and avoidable financial loss through seeking alternative treatments and private surgery and due to loss of earnings.
Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team was instructed to investigate the claim, and once independent expert evidence had been obtained, it was confirmed that our client’s care had fallen below a reasonably competent standard. Had he received appropriate advice, our client would have undergone the cholecystectomy by no later than mid-July 2015, thus avoiding an unnecessary period of pain and suffering.
We were able to achieve a good settlement to compensate him for his losses and hope that lessons are learnt so as to avoid similar incidences in the future.