This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who have recovered £10,000 compensation for a gentleman who developed retrograde ejaculation following prostate surgery.
He felt that his masculinity had been impaired and he became depressed and angry. His general relations with his wife suffered and his ability to enjoy sex was reduced greatly as a result. His physical and psychological effects are permanent.
In his 40s, B began to suffer mild urinary problems. About a decade or so later, a bladder neck obstruction was diagnosed and medication prescribed. The medication worked. B was not significantly troubled by urinary problems thereafter. Although his doctors periodically canvassed surgical intervention, B always dismissed this as being unnecessary. In the late 1990s B was specifically offered transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) to address his urinary problems. He declined because these problems were being satisfactorily managed by medication and because of the risk of retrograde ejaculation which was explained to him.
A few years later, B's doctors at the St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey assessed him as being at risk from prostate cancer. This risk had no connection to the urinary problems and he was advised to undergo a TURP procedure again. No other options were canvassed. B's understanding was that the purpose of the operation was to address the possibility of cancer and he followed the defendant's advice and agreed to undergo TURP, a painful and invasive operation, which was carried out under general anaesthetic a few months later when he was aged 61. Unfortunately, B developed retrograde ejaculation afterwards.
Retrograde ejaculation is a highly likely side-effect of TURP occurring in approximately 80% of all procedures. The defendant did not advise B of this likelihood. Its consent literature in relation to TURP made no reference to the retrograde ejaculation, nor was this deficiency remedied verbally at any time other than on 22 January 1998. Prior to the operation B was presented with a consent form to read and sign. He explained that he could not read English. The defendant provided a very brief verbal explanation. This did not include any reference to retrograde ejaculation. Those matters it did address were not readily comprehensible to B whose understanding remained that the purpose of the TURP was to address potential prostate cancer.
B complained. The findings of an independent investigation by the Healthcare Commission were in summary that:
- the defendant should have ensured that informed consent was obtained by a clinician with the relevant knowledge of the procedure
- the investigation of B's urinary problems was inadequate
- the defendant should have ensured greater Consultant involvement in B's care
- the defendant should have provided an interpreter
- the defendant's communication with B was inadequate throughout.
Jonathan Herbert specialises in clinical negligence cases. If you would like to ask him a question about a potential case involving consent 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.