Philippa Luscombe and Amy Milner of the Penningtons Manches LLP clinical negligence team have just settled a claim for a client seriously injured as a result of a gastric banding procedure performed privately by Professor Nadey Hakim.
The client consulted Professor Hakim with a view to considering gastric banding/weight loss surgery. As she was reassured by him that it was a straightforward procedure and that he was very experienced, she decided to go ahead. During the surgery she suffered a significant bleed but Professor Hakim continued with the banding procedure and completed the surgery. Although her condition deteriorated due to further bleeding, there was a notable delay before she was transferred as an emergency from the private clinic to a hospital with full facilities. The client then had to undergo significant further emergency surgery and a very prolonged recovery period. She has not only been left with extensive abdominal scarring but also a significant psychiatric injury resulting from being partly conscious during her deterioration and emergency care which meant that she was aware of the severity of her condition at the time.
A claim was brought against Professor Hakim for failing to warn the client of the risk of the procedure being converted to an open procedure if there were any complications (and therefore of significant scarring) and for his management of her after the bleed. The cause of the bleed itself was not due to any error but was a recognised risk of the procedure. It was the client’s case that, had she been advised of the risk of conversion to an open procedure, she would not have undergone the procedure at all. It was an elective procedure designed only to improve the way that she looked and felt about herself and her evidence is that she was not keen enough on the surgical option to take the risk of scarring. In relation to the care during surgery, it was alleged that Professor Hakim failed to control the bleeding and to transfer the client in a timely fashion. This failure led to her significant deterioration, subsequent emergency surgery, psychiatric injury and prolonged recovery.
As Professor Hakim’s defence organisation initially completely failed to respond to the presentation of the case, court proceedings were issued. Liability was denied but the matter was settled for a substantial sum following negotiations.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the clinical negligence team who led this matter, commented: “This was a very sad case where an individual went ahead with an elective procedure without being fully advised of the risks involved – some of which then materialised. Her situation was then compounded by her condition being allowed to deteriorate so significantly that she required life-saving surgery. She has been left significantly scarred – both physically and psychologically – and all aspects of her life have been adversely affected. This case emphasises two of the key problems with cosmetic surgery procedures. Firstly, that patients often go ahead without fully understanding the risks of the surgery and potential consequences and, secondly, that such procedures are often done in small private clinics without the expertise or facilities to manage an emergency situation – which can have a significant impact if problems arise”.