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Paul* was referred by his GP to North West London Hospitals NHS Trust in March 2009 after presenting with a two month history of bleeding from the rectum, and a family history of cancer of the colon.

At the end of April Paul had a colonoscopy, which revealed a large rectal mass with features of rectal cancer. Paul then underwent surgery to remove the cancer, but after the procedure, suffered with significant abdominal pain. He was reviewed by a specialist registrar who believed that the pain was caused from leaking from the surgery site.

A day later Paul had an emergency laparotomy, and it was found that there was a leak from the coloanal suture line, and Paul had to have a colostomy to allow the colon to heal after the original procedure.

After the further surgery, Paul suffered with pulmonary oedema, and his relatives were advised that he may not survive. He was on maximum organ support, and suffered with poor perfusion and septic shock, secondary to faecal peritonitis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and an acute renal injury. Paul suffered with multi-system failure, but did eventually recover and was discharged two months after the original surgery.

Paul alleged that the doctors carrying out the procedure had not performed it to an appropriate standard, and that the leak from the colon was sustained as a result of poor technique used during the original procedure.

The Hospital Trust admitted liability for Paul’s injuries and a compensation settlement of £290,000 was agreed.

Unfortunately Paul is left with a permanent colostomy, and also suffers with large incisional hernias, as well as distension of the abdomen, extensive surgical scars and an unsightly skin graft.

It was Paul’s case that without the negligently performed surgery, he would have recovered within three months of the operation and been able to return to work as a carpenter. Unfortunately, the permanent colostomy and the incisional hernias were such as to restrain him from being unable to return to this employment, or find alternative employment. The claim therefore included a figure of £67,000 towards future loss of earnings.

*The claimant and son’s names have been changed for legal reasons.