Diana Birch Suffered Permanent Nerve And Kidney Damage After Surgery To Repair A Rectal Prolapse
A woman who had to sell her home after an operation left her permanently disabled is taking legal action against the hospital Trust responsible for her treatment.
Diana Birch was left with permanent nerve damage following a laparoscopic rectopexy at The Royal Free Hospital in London to repair a rectal prolapse.
The 69-year-old paediatrician and charity director instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell after damage to her femoral nerve left her needing two sticks to walk and unable to move freely around her South London home. She has been unable to return to work since her operation in 2013.
When medical experts for the law firm began examining Diana’s scans, they found that her ureter – the duct by which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder - had also been damaged by the surgery, irrevocably damaging her kidney. As a result of Irwin Mitchell’s investigation, she returned to hospital last year where she was told her kidney would need to be removed. The procedure was carried out in June 2015.
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust has admitted liability for the negligently performed rectopexy and Diana has received an interim payment for rehabilitation and equipment to enable her to live as independently as possible.
Expert Opinion“Diana went to hospital for corrective surgery and left with a life-changing injury from which she will never recover.
“Diana led an incredibly full and active life prior to her injury; setting up addiction treatment and rehabilitation units In Afghanistan, hiking, dancing and training in Judo among other pastimes and pursuits.
“As a result of her injury, her mobility has been significantly diminished and she had to sell her home as she could no longer cope with the stairs. She has been unable to return to work as a director of a charity and as an expert witness in child abuse cases.
“We are investigating her care and working to achieve a fair settlement for her so that she is able to access rehabilitation and any support services or equipment she may need to maintain her independence for the rest of her life.” Louise Forsyth - Senior Associate Solicitor
Diana, who trained in medicine at the Royal Free, was admitted to the hospital on November 29, 2012, and underwent a rectoplasty to treat the prolapsed bowel.
She recovered well from the surgery and was discharged on December 3, but the operation was not enough to treat the problem. After several reviews doctors decided to operate again, this time performing a laparoscopic (key-hole) rectopexy on December 19, 2013.
Following the surgery Diana was in considerable pain and could not stand or walk.
On December 22 she complained to doctors that she had lost sensation in her lower back and left leg which gave way beneath her so that she could not stand.
The following day she was given an MRI scan which showed she had a severe injury to her left femoral nerve, which surgeons believed was possibly caused by compression during surgery. But medical experts for Irwin Mitchell have since said the damage was caused by the surgeon straying into the wrong area of her body.
No action was taken by staff at The Royal Free in response to the scan at the time.
Diana was discharged on December 24 and by early January was unable to move without the use of a wheelchair.
Medical experts working with Diana’s legal team say that with earlier surgical intervention, she may have recovered from paralysis, but due to delays that opportunity has now passed.
Diana, who has since moved to Italy to be near to family, said: “This has changed my life completely and three years on I am still trying to come to terms with what has happened to me and what could have been done to prevent it or correct it before it was too late.
“My greatest wish now is that lessons can be learned from what has happened to me so that no one else has their life turned upside-down as I have.
“A fair settlement won’t change what has happened but it will help me get all the help I need to live as independently as possible as I continue to adjust to my disability.”
If you or a loved suffered due to a surgical error or negligence, our medical negligence lawyers could help you secure compensation. Visit our Surgery Compensation Claims page for more information.