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        Case Study: Removal of ovaries

        Mrs D, a 42 year old woman, had been suffering from chronic menorrhagia - painful heavy bleeding during menstruation - for a number of years.

        In 2010 she underwent an MRI of her uterus and cervix, which showed an intramural fibroid - a noncancerous benign tumour - growing in her uterus. Both ovaries however were of normal size and morphology. She was subsequently advised to undergo a hysterectomy.  Following this procedure, a histology was performed on the tumour, which was described in the medical reports as a STUMP (smooth muscle tumour of uncertain malignant potential). Whilst the consensus was that the tumour was benign, Mrs D was advised that she would have to be regularly monitored to ward against all potential future risks of cancer.

        Mrs D was referred on to another surgeon to carry out the follow up care. Surprisingly, and contrary to the advice of her previous practitioners, this surgeon advised her that she should undergo yet another surgery, a laparoscopic BSO procedure. Unbeknown to Mrs D, as she had no medical experience and was not properly advised of the exact nature of the procedure, this surgery involved the entire removal of both her ovaries and fallopian tubes.

        Over the next few months Mrs D underwent severe symptoms of early onset menopause. She experienced intense hot flushes, mood swings and menopausal sweats. The surgeon ignored these concerns and simply advised her to either ‘weather the storm’. Mrs D continued to suffer severe menopausal symptoms without any real explanation. Two years later, Mrs D was contacted by the Trust where she had been treated, who advised her that the surgeon was under investigation for malpractice and that she should contact her GP if unhappy with the treatment she received.

        After contacting the Specter Partnership Solicitors, it was discovered that Mrs D was not properly advised as to what the laparoscopic BSO procedure was or that it would cause early onset menopause. Moreover, it was also demonstrated that such an aggressive surgical option was not necessary following a total hysterectomy. Mrs D could have alternatively simply been monitored since the STUMP was entirely removed and her ovaries appeared entirely normal.

        A doctor has three principle duties to their patients; to diagnose, to advise and to treat. Whilst the first and third of these were adequate when it came to Mrs D’s treatment, the second of these duties was breached by the surgeon. He neither informed Mrs D of what exactly the operation involved in terms of risks, nor did he inform her of possible alternative treatment options.

        In legal terms, this means that Mrs D did not give her fully informed consent to the treatment, amounting to negligence on the part of the surgeon when he proceeded. It was thus shown that this breach had caused Mrs D significant hardship over many subsequent years. We were able to issue proceedings against the Trust where Mrs D was treated and negotiated a significant 5 figure settlement in her favour.