Settlement for deaf patient’s family following gynaecologist’s negligence

Case Studies

Settlement for deaf patient’s family following gynaecologist’s negligence

We have settled a claim against Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust for a husband who pursued a claim on behalf of the estate of his late wife. She had received negligent treatment from gynaecologist, Jayne Cockburn, and, as a result, had to undergo numerous unnecessary invasive operations causing her a great deal of pain and suffering.

Our client’s wife was first referred to the gynaecology team at Frimley Park Hospital in 2003. Jayne Cockburn saw her on a number of occasions over the following years and in 2008 recommended and performed a hysterectomy and transvaginal tape operation. Our client’s wife was not offered any conservative treatment first nor was she advised of the risks associated with these procedures. The transvaginal tape was not warranted and she underwent the use of sacrospinous fixation sutures which she did not consent to and which were not suitable given that there was no evidence of a prolapse.

Following her initial surgery, our client’s wife had to undergo numerous revision surgeries and exploratory procedures because of the pain that the initial operation caused as well as urinary problems. She continued to suffer from pain, difficulty with day-to-day activities, urinary symptoms, sexual problems and consequent anxiety. 

In 2014 an investigation was conducted into the care provided by Miss Cockburn. Our client’s wife was seen in the review clinic as part of this investigation. She was very distressed to hear that the repeated surgeries she had undergone were unnecessary as she should never have had the initial operation in the first place.

Sadly, our client’s wife died shortly after the trust’s admission. Her husband decided to pursue a claim on behalf of her estate during this devastating time for the family. He also had to live with the knowledge that his wife had not reached a conclusion to the matter before her unexpected death.

Our client’s wife was deaf and was repeatedly discriminated against during her treatment. At no point was she given access to sign language interpreters to help her understand the nature of the surgery she was about to undergo. She was sent appointments through the post that she could only rearrange by telephone and was treated poorly during her after care because of a lack of understanding by staff of how to deal with deaf patients.

Our client, who is himself deaf, hoped that, by bringing the claim, steps would be taken by the trust to improve the way deaf patients are cared for when in hospital and to ensure that they can communicate their concerns, symptoms and consent to procedures.

After an independent clinical negligence investigation, the trust admitted that it had failed to offer conservative therapy, used inappropriate surgical procedures and failed to advise of the risks associated with these surgeries. Had conservative treatment been offered, our client’s wife would likely have avoided a number of painful surgeries which led to the development of scar tissue that caused her a great deal of pain and permanent damage.

After negotiation with the trust, we were able to reach a settlement for our client which reflected the pain and suffering that his wife experienced as a result of the unnecessary and inappropriate treatment she received from Miss Cockburn, as well as the upsetting consequences for her day-to-day life.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP