Three former patients of suspended consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Mohammed Suhaib Sait have won significant out of court settlements for the negligent and unnecessary treatment they received from him at Fawkham Manor Hospital in Dartford. The settlements have all been secured within less than a month of each other.
Mr Sait practised as a senior surgeon at Fawkham Manor until BMI Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest independent healthcare providers which ran the private hospital prior to its closure in 2019 due to patient safety concerns, suspended him and withdrew his practising privileges in 2016. This decision was on the basis of a suspicion that Mr Sait had been performing and profiting from unnecessary operations on both NHS and private patients.
He has subsequently undergone a GMC investigation and remains under investigation by the police on suspicion of fraud for billing for unnecessary operations over a 15 year period. Following his suspension, Mr Sait’s patients were referred to other surgeons, who questioned whether the procedures he performed were necessary. One surgeon who reviewed Mr Sait’s former patients queried whether treatment was needed in all but one case.
In the three recently settled cases, the specialist clinical negligence team at law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper has acted for a group of patients who all alleged that they had come to unnecessary harm because of Mr Sait’s actions.
Damages of £95,000 have been secured for Mrs Elaine Gurnham, a 57 year old woman from Rochester, who sought his advice for bunions on her left and right feet in early 2016. Mr Sait recommended surgery, which he then performed using an alleged out of date technique. Mrs Gurnham experienced a very poor outcome: her big toe pointed in the air and she developed very severe forefoot pain.
When Mrs Gurnham learned that Mr Sait had been suspended, she saw another foot and ankle surgeon, who told her that Mr Sait had operated on her foot using an old procedure that unnecessarily increased the risk that surgery would fail. Penningtons Manches Cooper investigated the claim on Mrs Gurnham’s behalf and obtained evidence from an independent expert who was of the opinion that Mrs Gurnham’s bunions were mild and she should not have had surgery at all. She should instead have been advised that her symptoms could be improved by wearing wider shoes with inserts.
Mrs Gurnham ultimately required revision surgery because of the poor outcome she experienced after Mr Sait’s treatment and, while her condition was significantly improved, she continues to experience chronic left foot pain which limits her tolerance for standing and walking.
Mr Sait denied the allegations of negligence against him but his insurers eventually agreed to settle the claim on 15 January 2021. Further details about Mrs Gurnham’s claim are available here.
Another recently settled claim has been on behalf of a 73 year old woman from Swanley who underwent unnecessary knee procedures and a negligently performed knee replacement while in Mr Sait’s care.
After being advised by her GP that she had a rare condition known as calcium pyrophosphate deposition (CPPD) disease, a painful form of arthritis that causes gout-like symptoms, she was referred to Mr Sait for further advice and treatment. Mr Sait seemed to ignore, or failed to identify her CPPD. He recommended and performed keyhole surgery on both of her knees and then subsequently performed a total knee replacement, from which she experienced a very poor outcome. She suffered ongoing pain and discomfort, and her tolerance for walking and standing was impaired.
Again, evidence was obtained from an expert knee surgeon who was of the opinion that surgery is not always appropriate for patients with CPPD and they should be managed conservatively in the first instance. He believed that the need for keyhole surgery was not indicated and it was unlikely to improve the woman’s symptoms while the knee replacement surgery was so poorly performed as to be negligent. Finally, the expert was of the opinion that there was a lack of evidence that the woman was properly advised and it was likely that her informed consent to treatment had not been obtained.
Mr Sait denied the allegations but has agreed to settle the claim for £80,000. Further details about her case are available here.
A more modest settlement against Mr Sait has also been achieved for a 52 year old man from Greenhithe. He underwent two knee procedures under general anaesthetic, which were inappropriate to treat his symptoms and would not likely have conferred any long-term benefit. In addition, the independent expert was of the opinion that Mr Sait had failed to discuss with the patient the likely benefit of the treatments he recommended, the available alternative options and the associated risks. Therefore, Mr Sait had failed to obtain his informed consent to treatment.
The allegations against Mr Sait were denied in full but, again, a compromise has been reached for a reasonable settlement award of £10,000. Further details about this claim are available here.
Commenting on these cases, Arran Macleod, an associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches Cooper, said: “Since Mr Sait’s suspension in 2016 a number of patients, many of whom have ongoing problems and pain following treatment under his care, have come forward seeking advice from us as to whether they might have a claim. We have noticed two over-arching issues in the way in which he managed his patients. Firstly, he appears to be inappropriately keen to proceed to invasive surgery. This seems consistently to be his primary recommendation. In all of the medical records we have seen from Mr Sait, there is a lack of information in relation to discussions at consultation clinics, and the advice that he provided as to the available alternative options, their pros and cons, and the risks and complications that could occur should the patient opt for one option over another. It is not surprising, therefore, that the claims we have investigated against Mr Sait include allegations that he failed to obtain the patients’ informed consent to treatment.
“The second theme that we have noticed in dealing with claims against Mr Sait is in relation to his failure to perform surgical procedures to a technically acceptable standard by reference to modern practices. In the claim that we settled on behalf of Mrs Gurnham, for example, our expert was of the opinion that the procedure Mr Sait performed was acceptable many years ago, but he should have updated his practice as more modern and safer surgical techniques became commonplace. His failure to perform surgery to acceptable standards has resulted in his patients suffering poor outcomes and requiring revision operations.
“Mr Sait has continuously denied the various allegations that have been made against him, which has led to drawn out proceedings when matters could have been dealt with more efficiently. We are, however, beginning to achieve settlements for our clients which not only brings closure to this chapter in their lives, but also provides them with some compensation for their injuries as well as the financial costs they have incurred as a result of the alleged negligence. It is concerning that there are likely many other patients who have not come forward who may also have been treated negligently under his care.”