We have successfully settled a claim for a client who suffered injury to her left ureter during a caesarean section.
Our client underwent a category two caesarean section due to obstructed labour. Unfortunately, during the surgery, her left ureter (the tube that links the kidney to the bladder) was sutured and blocked. Over the next few days she suffered severe abdominal pain and developed sepsis. Eventually, four days after the birth, a scan identified that her ureter was damaged.
Having undergone a percutaneous nephrostomy (surgery in which a flexible rubber tube or catheter was placed through the skin in our client’s back, into her kidney to allow the urine to drain), our client was discharged home after 15 days in hospital, with the urinary catheter still in place.
Nine weeks after the birth, she had to return to hospital for surgery to re-implant her ureter into the bladder. This involved another six-day hospital stay, and our client returned home, yet again with a urinary catheter in place for a further two weeks. She then required a further procedure to remove a temporary stent in the ureter which had been placed during the repair surgery.
In addition to the protracted recovery from childbirth, our client suffered ongoing pain in her left lower abdomen, kidney discomfort and bladder ache, as well as tugging, pulling and tightness across her caesarean section scar. She also suffered prolonged ongoing fatigue. In addition to her physical symptoms, she developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a mixed anxiety depressive disorder. All of these problems persisted in varying degrees for a number of years after the birth.
Our client was self-employed, and the combination of the problems suffered meant that she not only had to delay her return to work after her baby was born, but she was also only able to work on a part-time basis, rather than full-time, as previously planned. All of this had a significant effect on our client’s income.
Experts in obstetrics, urology and psychiatry were instructed to report. The obstetrics expert confirmed that the suturing of the ureter was a breach of duty. The urologist and psychologist respectively confirmed that the ongoing pains and psychiatric issues had been caused by this breach. In particular, the psychiatric expert advised that there was a synergistic relationship between the pain suffered by our client and her psychological symptoms. This meant that as the pain increased her depression, and the level of depression increased her perception of pain, both issues were thereby prolonged, and delayed our client’s ability to return to work as she would have wished.
The defendant hospital admitted liability, and evidence on quantum was served with a view to settlement by negotiation, without the need for involvement of the court. Unfortunately, despite the admission, the defendant did not engage sufficiently with negotiations to settle the claim. Our client was therefore advised to issue court proceedings, and, happily, settlement was reached very soon after this.
The damages reflect the pain and suffering our client endured, the additional care and assistance that she required, and her loss of earnings. Our client is very relieved that she is now able to move her life forward and has advised that there have been ‘a lot of happy tears’.
Elizabeth Maloney, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches Cooper, commented: “In addition to the physical injuries and their financial impact on our client, there was a devastating impact on our client’s experience of motherhood. I am delighted that she can now concentrate on her recovery.”
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