Damages for patient injured during bowel surgery at St Richard’s Hospital

Posted: 23/10/2015


Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team has settled a claim on behalf of a man from Rustington, Littlehampton against Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust for the injuries he sustained during surgery to remove a section of his bowel, resulting in long term health problems. 

In November 2010 our client underwent surgery at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester to treat gallstones. Bleeding from the sphincterotomy was noted during the procedure which necessitated further surgery. Unfortunately, an inappropriate procedure was performed, causing our client to suffer a significant bleed and an ischaemic injury to the small bowel. This required further surgery to stop the bleed, a right hemicolectomy and resection of the terminal ileum. 

Penningtons Manches’ medical experts advised that the client would have had an uneventful recovery with no further complications if the correct surgery been performed. Instead he was transferred to the intensive care unit for close observation and required further surgery to resect a further four inches of small bowel which was found to be ischaemic. Our client subsequently remained in hospital until 21 December 2010 during which period he suffered from further complications including swallowing difficulties, sinus tachycardia, right foot drop and increased defecation. 

After discharge, our client continued to suffer from urgency and lack of control of defecation, including incontinence, for which he requires lifelong medication. He also suffers from lethargy. Both are considered to be as a result of short gut syndrome caused by the resection of the small bowel. He has also developed an incisional hernia which he has been advised that, due to the previous surgeries, is inoperable. 

Having carried out investigations and obtained expert evidence, a claim was made against St Richard’s for its decision making and performance of the second surgery. The trust initially denied the case so we issued court proceedings following which the defendant opened negotiations and the case was settled. 

Penningtons Manches clinical negligence associate Rebecca Morgan, who acted for the claimant, commented: “The negligence in this case has had drastic and lifelong consequences for our client. He will be on lifelong medication to control his bowel function. Despite him raising a complaint and expert evidence being presented to the trust, it was not until we took the step of issuing court proceedings that the trust acknowledged and agreed to settle his claim. Its denial of liability for such a long time has only added to the frustration and distress of our client and the costs involved.”


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