Hysterectomy without consent
A Lancashire woman who had a hysterectomy without consent during what should have been a routine gynaecological procedure, has today been awarded compensation from Hammersmith Hospital NHS Trust.
Forty-four -year old Gillian Gordon, from Preston, was admitted into the Queen Charlottes Hospital in London during 2003 for an operation to freeze and remove a section of her ovaries after a scan on the area had raised concerns over cancerous cells.
Confident and assured that the cells were not malignant, Gillian had requested at all times during the consultation period with her gynaecological team that she did not want to undergo a hysterectomy until it was confirmed that cells on her ovaries were cancerous.
An emotional Gillian commented: I just knew that the cells would not be malignant, there is no history of ovarian cancer in the family and I was confident that all would be OK. This is why I was so insistent that I did not have a hysterectomy and asked that a frozen section be taken for analysis.
I knew that I may have to loose my ovaries and off course if the cells proved to be malignant I knew that I would have to consider a hysterectomy, the consultant and his team had made me aware of this but I saw it very much as last resort “ I wanted the cancer to be ruled out first!
Only too familiar with hospitals and post surgery recovery having had a complicated medical history Gillian continues: I have had to undergo a number of operations over the years due to gastric problems and the last thing I wanted was to have to go through major surgery unnecessarily!
In preparation for theatre on 15th October, Gillian was administered with a premed and wheeled into the anaesthetic room, despite several requests to meet with her surgeon prior to the op to once again re-iterate her concerns re a hysterectomy this was only the second time she saw him.
Gillian woke up several hours later to discover to her disappointment that a hysterectomy had been performed, I could not believe it, she said, I felt violated and so very upset.
In addition to this devastating blow I was soon to learn that there were no cancerous cells on my ovaries- it had been an unnecessary operation!
For the first couple of days after the operation, Gillian recovered well, however, things were soon to change and Gillian became desperately poorly.
I was in a terrible state, she recalls I had faeces oozing out of the hysterectomy incision for over a week and going down hill rapidly “ a severe infection had taken hold, my husband and relatives were convinced they were watching me die!
Gillian had to undergo further life saving surgery days later. Gillian was discharged from hospital one month later, having lost at least a third of her body weight “ a 12 month recovery period followed.
It later transpired that Gillian had been asked to sign a second consent form whilst she was sedated and therefore lacked the capacity to make an informed decision. It was on these grounds that the Trust awarded Gillian the compensation.
She added: I was absolutely out of it and have no memory of agreeing, my husband was not present either so he could not intervene. I had signed a form the day prior to the operation agreeing only to the frozen section being taken.
Gillian's lawyer, clinical negligence specialist, Francesca Dowse, from national law firm Irwin Mitchell, with offices in Manchester said: I am pleased with the result for my client, but sorry that she has had to undergo such a traumatic past few years. No amount of money can compensate for a women having to undergo such a operation unnecessarily.
Francesca believes that incidents like this need to be brought into the public domain. She added: At the time the hospital was under the impression that the signing of a consent form whilst under sedation in the theatre room is acceptable whilst clearly this is not.