Medical Law Experts Say Improvements Must Be Made To Keyhole Hysterectomies And After Care
A mum-of-two who suffered months of agony and will never fully recover after she suffered the double blow of negligent surgery from a private surgeon and poor aftercare when an NHS Trust failed to spot the severity of her problems has won her battle for justice after lawyers secured her a five-figure settlement.
Dee Zimmerman, 47, believes she was given ‘inadequate care’ by a private surgeon who carried out a routine keyhole operation to remove her womb and ovaries in May 2010. But to make matters worse, she was also failed by an NHS hospital Trust she went to for emergency care in the days after the operation.
The Worcester NHS worker, who lived in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, at the time of the surgery, instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to help her gain access to an understanding of her inadequate care received, as well as fund her loss of earnings after being left unable to work for six months because of on-going problems.
Now, she can finally look to the future after Irwin Mitchell secured a substantial five-figure sum from both Mr Malcolm Padwick, who carried out the operation, and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Dee was booked for a keyhole hysterectomy with Mr Padwick at the Spire Bushy Hospital after he had advised it was the best option with minimal recovery time following a diagnosis of endometriosis - a gynaecological condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other areas of the body.
She states that she was not warned of the potential associated risks which include bleeding, infection and damage to the ureter – tubes that pass urine from the kidneys to the bladder, but within hours she was sick from being in so much pain with stomach cramps and doubled over.
Mr Padwick discharged Dee four days after the operation, but she returned to him two days later with severe pain, vomiting, a fever and rapid heart rate. Expert evidence commissioned by Irwin Mitchell confirmed that she should have been referred to a urologist at that stage who would have arranged for tests, which would have shown that a hole in her ureter had been caused during the surgery. But this wasn’t done and poisonous fluids leaked into her body causing infection.
She was admitted to Watford General Infirmary after the pain, fluid and blood loss became unbearable and despite being given a scan, doctors there still failed to recognise the damage that had been caused and did not send her for the appropriate treatment.
Emma Rush, a medical negligence expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office representing Dee, who now lives near Droitwich, said: “This is such a worrying case, as not only did she suffer from poor treatment initially, but once she went to hospital for further tests they failed to spot just how ill she was and were unable to treat her quickly enough, leaving her with ongoing pain and problems.
“The simple fitting of a stent to the ureter would have treated the problem but doctors at Watford did not advise this and instead allowed Mr Padwick to perform further surgery on her ureter.
“Things just kept going from bad to worse. Even once Dee had the stent and a catheter fitted, she was regularly in and out of hospital with complications and is still suffering from weakened bladder control and is in pain from a hernia which was likely caused by a procedure that she didn’t even need.
“The settlement we have secured for her draws a line under the last two-and-a-half years but lessons must be learnt and Mr Padwick and West Hertfordshire NHS Trust now need to reassure patients that improvements have been made in keyhole hysterectomies and in recognising and treating the complications that can occur.”
Dee said: “The last two years have been horrendous as I’ve been in and out of hospital and have been in considerable pain. I still have bladder problems and I’m told that I am at a risk of further kidney infections which is a constant worry. I avoid most medical treatments now as I have little faith in consultants.
“I was never warned of the risks of a keyhole hysterectomy, but had I been, I would have looked at alternative options,
“I feel I was let down and given inadequate care by the surgeon as well as the NHS Trust which I turned to for help when I needed it most. I am still angry about it and emotionally upset by the trauma it caused me and my young family.
“I had resigned from my role as Clinical Group Manager at an NHS Partnership Trust before the operation as we were moving geographically as a family, but it took months for me to be well enough to even attend interviews for very basic jobs, or work again, as was our original family plan.
“I have always worked and had 25 years continuous public service prior to this crisis. I had been assured I would recover quickly and had planned to secure a post within a couple of months. Unfortunately I could not even walk without constant pain for months after the surgery.
“This case was not about the money and nothing can turn back the clock and make up for the suffering myself and young family had gone through, but the settlement means it is recognised that my care should have been better and I can now begin to look to the future. I just hope lessons have been learnt so no one else has to go through what I have.
“I am incredibly grateful to Irwin Mitchell for helping me get my life back on track, as well as for their sensitive and professional approach throughout.“
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of negligent surgery, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.