The clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches has recently settled a claim against a private consultant gastroenterologist at the BUPA Cromwell Hospital for delayed gallstone treatment. The client suffered avoidable pain and financial loss as a result of the negligent advice and consequent delayed treatment.
In May 2015, the client experienced pain in the upper right side of his abdomen, so he visited his GP who advised that the pain could be due to a potential gallstone. He was then referred to the private consultant gastroenterologist, with the cost being covered by his employer’s private healthcare insurance benefit.
After his first appointment with the consultant, the client was referred for further tests, including an endoscopy and an MRI scan. The latter confirmed the presence of a 3cm stone within the neck of the gallbladder.
The consultant advised that the gallstone was “benign” and was not causing the abdominal pain, explaining that it was “too big to move into the ducts”, which is “when they cause damage”. The client’s liver function tests were normal, which the consultant advised was another reason to dismiss the gallstone as being the cause of any issues. The client was informed that his symptoms were caused by “gastritis” and he was recommended to make lifestyle changes, including “light meals at night”, which unfortunately made no difference to his symptoms.
The intermittent upper abdominal pains continued over the following year and gradually increased in frequency and severity, having a significant impact on the client’s quality of life and ability to work. He attempted to manage his symptoms with medication and alternative therapies but found no relief. The consultant reassured him on numerous occasions that the gallstone was not the cause of his symptoms.
After growing increasingly concerned about the persistent pains, the client sought a second opinion through his GP. A general surgeon advised him that the problem was almost “certainly” due to the gallstone as he had “such classic symptoms”. He subsequently underwent a cholecystectomy (surgery to remove the gallstone and gallbladder), and after a period of recovery, his abdominal symptoms completely resolved.
The clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches investigated the claim on behalf of the client following his concerns about the inaccurate advice he had received from the private consultant gastroenterologist. An independent expert was instructed to consider the evidence, and he confirmed that the care in this case had fallen below a reasonably competent standard.
Naomi Holland, an associate in the clinical negligence team who represented the client, said: "Our client was right to be concerned about the treatment and care given to him. I am pleased that we have been able to achieve a good settlement to compensate him for his losses – for both the unnecessary pain and financial loss, through seeking alternative treatments and private surgery, and loss of earnings. We hope that by our client raising his concerns, lessons will be learnt by the defendant so as to avoid repeat incidences in the future.
“If you have any concerns about the treatment and care you or a member of your family have received, please contact our specialist clinical negligence team.”