Five-Figure Compensation Settlement for Surgical Errors

Author:
Sarah Holdsworth
Associate Solicitor, Medical Negligence Claims
Date:
30/01/2020

A Medical Negligence Case Study – Client Situation

Our client went to her GP after discovering a lesion on her nose which was bigger than a pinhead and bled after showering. Her doctor suspected skin cancer and referred her to Tameside General Hospital for further tests.

A diagnosis of nodular basal cell carcinoma was confirmed and it was recommended she have the lesion removed. Our client was assured this would be a small operation, lasting only about 20 minutes and would involve wearing a plaster.

But following the procedure, the surgeon informed our client that the cancer was bigger and deeper than expected. This meant he had to perform a different surgical procedure, which involved taking a flap of skin from her forehead and also meant another surgical procedure would also have to be carried out.

She returned to the hospital the following day as she couldn’t stop the nose wound from bleeding, and was treated with a haemostatic agent. But over the following week, her face began to swell and she had two black eyes, leaving her horrified at her appearance.

Following further appointments and surgical procedures, her face continued swelling, to the point where she couldn’t see properly as her eyes were closing up. Pus was also oozing from her wound and the surgery had left an unsightly flap on her forehead, adding to her distress.

Our client was referred to The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, as she had lost faith in the department that had been treating her. She was eventually discharged on the basis that The Christie NHS Foundation Trust didn’t feel it could improve her appearance with a reconstruction.

She subsequently consulted three further surgeons, who all believed there wasn’t enough skin to do a reconstruction, and shared concerns that more surgery may cause a relapse of her pre-existing multiple sclerosis.

Our client is currently receiving counselling, as she has lost confidence and is reluctant to be seen in public, and she also has problems with her nasal airway and breathing.

How We Helped

Medical Negligence Solicitor Sarah Holdsworth agreed to help her claim compensation for botched surgery on a lesion on her nose from Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.

In presenting the case Sarah argued that a series of medical mistakes had been made, including:

      • Continuing with the operation upon discovering the tumour was larger and deeper than expected
      • Failure to ensure the patient had properly consented to the operation
      • Not discussing different ways of reconstructing the nose with the patient.

Our client told us that if she’d been made aware of all the surgical options available, she would have opted for a full thickness skin graft from behind her ear, thereby avoiding the need for a forehead skin flap.

Had her wishes been followed then would have avoided the distress she went through over her appearance, she would have avoided her forehead scar, avoided problems with her nasal airway and breathing and there would have been a shorter recovery time.

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust admitted breach of duty, but didn’t accept that the mistakes led to her subsequent problems, as the evidence didn’t indicate that a full thickness skin graft would have been appropriate.

Our client’s upper forehead scarring is expected to be permanent, which means the only option available may be cosmetic camouflage. However, further surgery to reconstruct the nose would be possible, at a cost of several thousand pounds.

This was included in our valuation of her medical negligence claim, along with other costs including travel fees and expenses to see experts, including counsellors. Our estimate of the compensation claim’s value also considered the cost of the care that had been provided to her by family members, such as help with bathing, dressing and general household tasks.

The Outcome

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust agreed to pay our client an undisclosed five-figure amount of compensation.

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