We obtained compensation for a lady after she was dropped from the operating table whilst under general anaesthetic. Our client attended hospital for a laparoscopy and an anterior vaginal wall prolapse repair. The laparoscopy was performed first and she was placed on the operating table with her head tilted down and her legs up in stirrups (known as the Trendelenburg position).
The surgeon required her to be in a level position for the prolapse repair, so when the laparoscopy was finished, he instructed the anaesthetist to move the table back to a level position, which is done by operating a reverse button on the table. However, the anaesthetist failed to ensure that it was safe to do so. Because the dropped part of the end of the table had been left in situ, it came into contact with the floor, created resistance and caused the main base of the table to lift off the floor. The anaesthetist did not check underneath the drapes and did not notice what was happening to the base. When the dropped part of the table eventually gave way, the main base that had lifted dropped to the floor suddenly and the table jolted upwards.
Our client suddenly slipped down towards the floor with her legs still in stirrups so that her spine was in a flexed and awkward position. When she came round from the anaesthetic, she felt that her legs were cold and numb afterwards. She sustained bruises and skin abrasions to her left thigh and upper abdomen under her left breast. She also suffered from pain in the buttock area and her back, which radiated to the left side of her buttocks. She also suffered from numbness in her left thigh and a pressure sensation which was worse on sitting. Walking eased the pain a little, although she had trouble sleeping at night for a period following the incident.
Our client had elected to have the procedure at a private hospital. This meant that the surgeon and anaesthetist were individually liable, as well as the hospital. Unfortunately for our client, all three Defendants blamed each other for the incident and so none of them accepted liability. This problem would not have arisen if she had received NHS treatment, as our client would have been under the care of one body, the NHS Trust. There would have been no need to determine who exactly was at fault.
Our client was therefore injured through no fault of her own and was left to NHS care without any offer of compensation for her injuries. We required expert evidence from a surgeon, an anaesthetist, an operating theatre practitioner, an engineer, an orthopaedic surgeon and a spinal surgeon to establish our case, which we fought on three fronts. We issued court proceedings for our client and fought hard to successfully secure a settlement for our client, which will allow her to have private physiotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy to help her adjust to living with permanent discomfort. It is hoped that lessons have been learned by the hospital which will avoid this happening to anybody else in the future.
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