Ms P decided after much thought and research to undergo a laparoscopic gastric band insertion operation.
She had struggled with her weight, weighing 23 stone, and had tried several slimming methods without success. Her weight affected her both physically and mentally and she was too self conscious to go out. NHS treatment was not available and so she decided to pay for private treatment.
Following the operation, Ms P began to feel extremely unwell. It later emerged that her doctors had failed to administer antibiotics during the surgery, despite this being widely accepted as good practice. On top of this, there was a serious failure to adequately wash and manage her post-operatively, with staphylococcus aureus later being cultured from the port site wound. This infection was not helped by her doctor making the extraordinary suggestion that she discontinues use of antibiotics to allow her body to naturally fight the infection.
Eventually our client was forced to have revision surgery as the infection had spread to the band itself. Her weight subsequently ballooned, causing her severe distress. It was not until 2 years later that our client was able to undergo a sleeve gastrectomy, after which she happily has lost over 5 stone.
This was a difficult case to run with many complex legal issues to overcome. To begin with, the defendants refused to admit that not administering antibiotics during the operation was in itself negligent. There was at that point no hospital policy for this to be done. However, we managed to show, with support from a Professor of Surgery and Consultant Surgeon, that despite there being no hospital policy, logical and good medical practice should be to administer antibiotics and that this was supported by clear instructions on the gastric band product itself.
The defendants also questioned whether their negligence caused the injuries, alleging the infection occurred too long after surgery for antibiotics to have made any difference. However, we managed to show with further expert evidence that it was more than likely that had the antibiotics been administered, there would not have been an infection and our client would not have suffered such distress and loss. Eventually, the case was settled and the client received a significant 5 figure compensation sum. Both the team and the client are very happy with this result in light of the legal difficulties that this case presented.
It is important to realise that medical negligence is not always clear cut. Just because a defendant did or did not take a course of action does not in itself prove negligence as there are often multiple treatment options available. However, with sufficient medical expertise, one can show that the choice to undertake or not undertake a certain treatment is sufficiently illogical to withstand legal scrutiny. It was by proving this higher standard that our client was able to get the correct result.