Michelmores win a five figure sum for Cornish woman after gall bladder removal surgery blunder

A Cornish woman has accepted  a five figure sum in an out-of-court settlement after surgery to remove her gall bladder went wrong.

Mrs A was a full time carer for her severely disabled teacher husband. She suffered from abdominal pain and was referred to the hospital being diagnosed with gall stones. In September 2003 she was admitted to hospital for key hole surgery (known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy) to remover her gall bladder. Unfortunately the surgeon severed her common bile duct during the operation which he converted from key hole to an open procedure.   He then carried out a complicated repair procedure himself without referring to either a specialist surgery centre or calling in a specialist hepatobiliary reconstruction surgeon. Consequently after the operation Mrs A's condition deteriorated significantly as one of the joints that had been made by the surgeon failed leading to bile seeping into her abdomen.   The surgeon concerned took her back to theatre where he discovered the repair that he had carried out had clearly failed as she was suffering from biliary peritonitis.   He carried out further surgery which was unorthodox but nevertheless successful. The surgeon concerned explained that he had to scrub the biliary peritonitis (i.e. infected bile) from her bowel. Mrs A spent 3 months in hospital. As a result she is making a painful and slow recovery some of which was spent in the high dependency unit.  

Mrs A's lawyer, Kevin Finneran, of Michelmores' specialist clinical negligence team, claimed on her behalf that it took too long to decide on the repair procedure and that the repair operation itself was defective and negligent.

'Reconstruction of the bile duct is possible provided there is an immediate diagnosis of the problem and an experienced hepatobiliary surgery undertakes the procedure.   The patient should also be carefully monitored after they have undergone repair,' he explains. 'Unfortunately neither of those criteria were applied in the case of Mrs A. Hopefully the same situation would not arise today as there are now specialist centres with expert hepatobiliary surgeons.

'As a result, Mrs A has been left with significant disability from which she won't recover. We are pleased with a five figure sum settlement, though Mrs A remains understandably aggrieved that her life has been so painfully affected. She hopes that reporting the details of her care will prevent other patients suffering in the future.'