We have recently settled a claim against Spire Healthcare Ltd for a client who suffered an anastomotic leak following gastric bypass revision surgery, leading to the need for further surgery and causing her a problematic recovery.
In March 2011 our client underwent a mini gastric bypass (surgery where the stomach is divided) and was discharged shortly afterwards. Following the operation, our client suffered a wound infection and had some difficulties swallowing. Her weight diminished and she felt weak and lethargic, with trouble eating. This continued for some time until, in April 2015, she underwent a revision of the gastric bypass, performed at Spire Southampton Hospital. Our client was discharged the following month but, within a day of discharge, suffered severe abdominal pain and was vomiting “coffee ground” vomit. She was taken back to hospital by ambulance.
It appeared that our client had suffered what is known as an ‘anastomotic leak’; a rare but dangerous complication of abdominal surgery, and she required emergency surgery. She had a very difficult post-operative recovery, requiring a period in the intensive care unit and the insertion of a feeding tube. Following this emergency treatment, she suffered flashbacks and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD.
Investigations were carried out as part of the clinical negligence claim, led by our specialist team, and, following receipt of expert evidence, it was alleged that there were failures by Spire Healthcare and that our client should not have been discharged from hospital following her revision surgery. We contended that she should have been kept in for further observations and reviewed by her consultant before discharge, and that this would have led to the leak being identified and treated, without the need for emergency care.
In response to our letter of claim setting out these allegations, Spire Healthcare made no admissions and was not prepared to negotiate a settlement. Court proceedings were therefore issued but, after further negotiations, the defendant admitted that our client should have been examined by a consultant prior to discharge. It denied that this failure caused our client’s injury but our clinical negligence team was nevertheless able to negotiate a settlement.
This case clearly highlights the importance of following a proper discharge process and ensuring that patients are ready to leave hospital, particularly following abdominal surgery.
We are pleased to have been able to bring this matter to a sensible resolution and achieve closure for our client.