Botched Colorectal And Gastrointestinal Surgery FAQ


The Law Of… Mismanaging Gastrointestinal Surgery

Gastrointestinal (GI) surgery is divided into two areas: upper and lower gastrointestinal surgery. The latter is also referred to as colorectal surgery.

gastrointestinal surgery

Medical Negligence Solicitor, Alison Hills, answers frequently asked questions on these procedures and what happens if they go wrong.

What Is Gastrointestinal Surgery?

Gastrointestinal surgery is a catch-all term for surgical procedures carried out on the digestive system. Such interventions may be necessary to treat a number of conditions, such as cancer, gallstones, or Crohn's disease. The digestive system is constituted of two specific areas: the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract.   

What Is Upper GI Surgery?

Upper gastrointestinal surgery, often shortened to UGI, concerns treatment carried out on the upper half of the digestive tract. This covers everything from the oesophagus to the pancreas and includes the liver, gallbladder and stomach.

Surgery is carried out on various parts of the upper gastrointestinal tract to combat diseases such as:

  • Stomach cancer – Invasive tumorous growth(s) within the stomach or stomach lining
  • Liver cancer – Invasive tumour(s) that begins in the liver (primary) or spreads to it from elsewhere in the body (secondary)
  • Pancreatic cancer – Invasive tumorous growth(s) starting in the pancreas
  • Gallstones – Small deposits of cholesterol forming in the gallbladder
  • Pancreatitis – Inflamed pancreas
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – Leakage of stomach acid into the oesophagus.

Upper GI surgery is usually a major operation carried out under general anaesthetic.

What Is Colorectal Surgery?

Colorectal surgery, also known as lower gastrointestinal surgery, concerns treatment performed on the lower digestive tract. This is generally referred to as the bowel and comprises the small intestine, colon, rectum and anus.

Colorectal surgery is required to treat diseases of the bowel, such as:

  • Bowel cancer – Invasive tumorous growth(s) in the colon, rectum or anus
  • Crohn's disease – Inflammation of part of the bowel
  • Colitis – Inflammation and ulceration of the colon or rectal lining
  • Fistulas – An abnormal tunnel forming in the digestive tract
  • Diverticulitis – Small pockets that form in the bowel and can become inflamed or infected.

As with upper gastrointestinal procedures, colorectal surgery is usually a major operation performed under general anaesthetic.

What Complications Can Arise From Upper GI or Colorectal Surgery?

As with all major surgeries, both upper gastrointestinal and colorectal surgery carry certain risks. These include the usual issues related to a surgical procedure, such as wound site infection, excess bleeding and adverse reaction to anaesthetic.

There are also more specific complications relating to both upper GI and colorectal surgery, which include:

  • Vascular trauma (damage to surrounding blood vessels) or injuries to organs such as bladder, liver or spleen
  • Perforation of the intestine or upper digestive tract
  • Incisional hernia caused by failure of abdominal wound to properly heal post-surgery
  • Ileus – restriction of movement within the bowel, which can lead to a potentially life-threatening obstruction
  • Intestinal obstructions due to adhesions
  • Anastomotic leak – life-threatening seepage of bowel fluid into abdominal or chest cavity, through a surgical join following resection surgery.

Where infection and the subsequent possibility of sepsis is suspected, fast diagnosis and effective treatment are needed to prevent fatality.

What Symptoms Should I Look Out For Following Gastrointestinal Surgery?

You should seek immediate medical attention if you have had gastrointestinal surgery and are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pains or difficulty with breathing
  • Increasingly acute abdominal pains
  • Fever
  • Vomiting blood
  • Passing black or bloody stools
  • Difficulties with swallowing.

Symptoms of this nature could be a sign of something, possibly life-threatening, having gone wrong with your gastrointestinal surgery and may require urgent medical treatment.

What Can I Do If My Gastrointestinal Surgery Went Wrong?

If your surgery or aftercare was botched, resulting in further injury to yourself, you may be entitled to compensation. If the surgery led to the death of a loved one, you may be able to make a claim on their behalf.

To find out if you have grounds for a medical negligence case, contact Simpson Millar today.

Why Should I Make A Claim For Botched Gastrointestinal Surgery?

A successful claim for mismanaged upper gastrointestinal or colorectal surgery will:

  • Provide a financial settlement that allows you to obtain any ongoing care, support or treatment the adverse consequences of your surgery have made necessary
  • Increase awareness of the errors that led to your suffering, preventing them from being repeated with other patients.

How Do I Make A Claim For Botched Gastrointestinal Surgery?

If your upper GI or colorectal surgery was mismanaged and you suffered as a result, you should seek independent and professional legal advice.

A law firm with a dedicated Medical Negligence Department, such as Simpson Millar, will be able to provide expert guidance and representation, enabling you to start your claim for compensation.

How Long Do I Have To Make My Claim For Gastrointestinal Surgery?

You have 3 years from either the date of the surgery or from when your resulting injuries were diagnosed, to make a claim.

If your child was injured as a result of gastrointestinal surgery, you have until they reach the age of 18 to make the claim on their behalf. Thereafter, it becomes the responsibility of the child and the 3 year limitation applies.

For children who are classed as 'Protected Persons', in that they are incapable of managing their affairs due to mental disorder, there is no time limit to starting a claim once they reach adulthood.

What Do I Do Next?

If you believe you have grounds for a medical negligence claim following gastrointestinal surgery, speak to one of our team today.

The experience and expertise of Simpson Millar in handling complex claims of this nature will ensure you get the level of compensation you are entitled to.

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