Bowel injury during hysterectomy

Our client was diagnosed with uterine cancer and was advised to have a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus). She elected to undergo a robotic procedure by way of a Da Vinci Robot assisted laparotomy and was advised she would return home the following day. Such procedures are minimally invasive and allow a surgeon better precision and control, providing for a quicker recovery for the patient.  However, like all such procedures, they do carry the risk of bowel injury.

Unfortunately, our client’s bowel was damaged during the procedure and this was not fully recognised until eight days after the procedure.  It was our case against the Trust that the bowel injury should have been recognised much earlier in view of our client’s clinical features and radiology findings. Due to the delay in recognising the iatrogenic injury, our client developed peritonitis in the post-operative period. Macroscopically, the longer the peritonitis is allowed to go on, the more damage occurs to the lining of the intestine. Unfortunately, our client went on to suffer severe sepsis and required a protracted stay in hospital for chronic sepsis secondary to intra-abdominal collections and the development of entero-cutaneous fistulae (where contents of the stomach or intestines leak through to the skin).

Our client became extremely unwell.  She required a tube to feed intravenously and a tube in her nose for breathing. She developed an acute kidney injury which required rental replacement therapy and invasive catheterisation dialysis. She developed pressures sores and haemorrhoids from constipation which required a further operation to clear the blockage thereby causing a fissure (a tear that develops in the lining of the large intestine near the anus). 

Thankfully, our client made it through this period of being acutely unwell.  However, when she was eventually discharged, she was malnourished, weak and required significant post-operative wound care. She needed recurrent botox treatments for the anal fissure and continues to suffer from urinary tract infections and haemorrhoids. She developed an incisional hernia, significant abdominal adhesions and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  She has ongoing and permanent abdominal discomfort which disturbs her sleep and causes her to lie on her side propped up with a pillow. She suffers from a loss core strength; fatigue; backache and pain around the rib area when standing for longer than five or ten minutes; pain on bending; dry skin requiring excessive moisturising; and worsened kidney function. This has all taken its toll on her mental well-being.

Prior to the negligence, our client was independent, fit and active. Not only did she suffer a frankly horrendous experience in hospital, suffering a post-operative condition as complex as it gets, her life has been permanently and adversely affected by this experience. It is because she was such a fit and vivacious lady for her age that she survived the ordeal but it means its impact has been felt all the more acutely.

Initially our client had approached a different firm of solicitors who commissioned an expert report, however, they concluded that the case did not have sufficient merits and declined to represent her. Our client therefore approached us and we appreciated the importance of early recognition of such injuries and the right disciplines of experts that would be required to provide medical opinion. As always, it is for the medical profession to determine whether the care afforded to patients is of an adequate standard. After issuing court proceedings, we managed to negotiate a six figure settlement for our client without the need for a trial.  Her hope, as shared by all our clients, is that lessons are learned by the Trust and we wish her all the best in her continued recovery.

Natalie showed a high degree of professionalism with a friendly and courteous attitude.  The level of service that I received could not have been better.