Clinical Negligence

Compensation recovered for negligent treatment of ectopic pregnancy

This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who recently recovered £112,500 for a client who suffered a psychological injury following an unsuccessful operation to remove an ectopic pregnancy (which can be fatal if not treated). So severe was the pain that our client believed she was indeed going to die.

A few days after discovering she was pregnant, our client woke with severe stomach pains. She attended her local accident & emergency department at Darent Valley Hospital in Kent. She was referred to the Early Pregnancy Unit where a right ectopic pregnancy was diagnosed. She was admitted for surgery.

The surgeon failed to remove the ectopic pregnancy. The histology report confirmed that there was no pregnancy tissue within the removed section of tube. However, the histology results were not available for a further four weeks.

In the meantime, the hospital wrongly assumed that the procedure had been successful and the claimant was discharged.

Six days following her discharge, she returned to A&E as she was experiencing further symptoms; vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, feeling weak and faint and had begun to pass blood clots. Despite a urinary pregnancy test being positive, the doctors concluded that she was suffering from infection and prescribed antibiotics. She was discharged home but her condition continued to deteriorate.

Two weeks later, our client woke with severe abdominal pain and diarrhoea; the ectopic pregnancy had ruptured. Later that day, she collapsed whilst attempting to use the toilet. She regained consciousness but was unable to move or talk. She was struggling to breathe and was in so much pain that she thought that she was going to die. She was taken back to hospital by ambulance where she was given morphine but she continued to faint.

It took several hours before a doctor concluded that the previous attempt to remove the ectopic pregnancy had failed. She therefore underwent a second procedure to remove her ectopic pregnancy.

Following this experience, she developed chronic moderately severe post traumatic stress disorder connected to the failed operation and, in particular, to the fear that she was going to die. She also developed a moderately severe chronic depression with anxiety and panic attacks. Our client required full time care for six months and was unable to work for a year.  She remained unable to work full time as a result of her psychiatric symptoms.

The compensation included a sum to pay for the treatment which, it was hoped, would help her to recover from her traumatic experience and move on with her life.

Jonathan Herbert has significant experience of dealing with obstetric and gynaecology cases. If you would like to ask Jonathan a question about a potential case involving a gynaecological injury or you have a general query about medical negligence, contact him on 01892 701226 in confidence.

We have one of the largest and most experienced specialist medical negligence teams in Southern England including London. Our team of highly experienced lawyers has the depth and range of expertise essential in this sensitive and often complex area of law. Our clinical negligence team is very proud to be ranked Number 1 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners UK.

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