Delay in diagnosis of peritonitis claim success - £165,000 compensation

We obtained £165,000 in compensation for a 65 year old man following the negligent management of the surgery he underwent in 2007 to treat bowel cancer.

The man had suffered from rectal bleeding and was referred by his GP to a colorectal registrar who felt a mass in the bowel. It was decided that colonoscopy and local excision of the mass ought to be carried out. Following the excision procedure, it was unclear whether the tumour had been entirely removed. The man was therefore advised to undergo a low anterior resection (surgery on the lower part of the bowel).

After the operation, the man’s health deteriorated further in that he had a high respiratory rate, a raised white blood cell count and elevated C-reactive protein levels. His abdomen was distended, he was vomiting and had a high heart rate. A CT scan was carried out and this showed that the man was suffering from a post-operative anastomotic leak. The results of the scan however were ignored. Whilst leakage is a common risk of this type of surgery, it demands urgent attention.

Unfortunately the surgeon did not return him to theatre until over a week after the operation. When he did go back to theatre, the type of procedure performed was not appropriate and the ileostomy created did not prevent the continued leakage of faecal material and therefore resulted in a prolonged period of sepsis.

As a result of the delay in diagnosis of the anastomotic leak and as a result of the incorrect surgical procedure then being performed, the man suffered extensive intra-abdominal sepsis, peritonitis, urinary calculi, difficulties with bladder catheterisation, a recurrent incisional hernia and a faecal fistula. The man continues to suffer from severe bowel dysfunction, impaired rectal evacuation and extensive abdominal wall hernias which are likely to increase in size and become more uncomfortable with time therefore requiring further surgery. Additionally, as a result of his stay on Intensive Care he developed a critical illness myopathy resulting in muscle weakness in his legs making walking long distances difficult.

The man also suffers psychologically from his injuries, namely from an adjustment disorder, anxiety and depressed mood, as a result of the negligent treatment that he received.

We instructed four experts to help investigate this case including a colorectal surgeon, a consultant urologist, a consultant neurologist and a consultant psychiatrist.

The claim settled for £165,000 following issue of formal proceedings upon the NHS trust.

There was no cost to our client in bringing the claim. 

The service was personal, professional and considered. I was treated so kindly and in the end I knew that not only had I found the right organisation but also the right person.

Boyes Turner client

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