Pair Left With PTSD After Enduring ‘Agony’ On Operating Table
Patients have spoken of their concern over anaesthetic services at a hospital after they reported being awake during surgery.
Specialist medical negligence lawyers from Irwin Mitchell are acting for the pair who have both gone on to develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what they went through at Yeovil District Hospital.
The cases include a Somerton man who was awake as a tube was inserted into his throat during urgent surgery, as well as a woman from Somerset who screamed out in agony when a surgeon made an incision into her belly button during a procedure last year.
Irwin Mitchell’s legal experts are currently investigating the concerns.
Following legal submissions, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, admitted liability in the second case involving the woman. It denied liability in the other case.
The patients have now joined forces to speak out about their experiences and their hope that other patients do not have the same experience they did.
Expert Opinion“Anaesthetic awareness is where a patient who is supposed to be sedated is conscious during surgery. It is an extremely worrying issue and, as the experiences of our clients show, it can have a significant lasting impact on those affected.
“Patients who are undergoing surgery place a great deal of faith and trust in a range of medical experts including anaesthetists. The first-hand accounts we have heard from our clients are very worrying.
“We are continuing to work hard to support our clients so they can try and overcome what they have been through.” Elise Burvill - Associate Solicitor
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling anaesthetic awareness cases
Somerton Case Study
Anthony Warren, 60, from Somerton, was admitted to A&E at Yeovil District Hospital in September 2015 after he developed severe abdominal pain.
He was subsequently diagnosed with a perforated bowel and the decision was made for him to have urgent surgery. While it is understood he was administered with anaesthetic, Anthony, Retired, was left in agony as he was intubated.
He said: “It was horrific and it genuinely felt like there was an extreme pressure on my throat like I was being strangled.
“A few days later I mentioned to a nurse that I was having nightmares. She then told me that what I was having were flashbacks, as what I had been experiencing had actually happened.”
Anthony, who lives with his elderly mother, has been significantly affected since the time of the operation.
He instructed Irwin Mitchell. Lawyers have issued proceedings against Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The organisation has denied that there were failings during the attempts to intubate Anthony.
He said: “The PTSD I suffer from is horrendous and at times it has been like having constant anxiety. I still suffer from flashbacks and nightmares, while bright lights remind me of theatre lights and bring all of the emotions flooding back.
“I had a colostomy bag after the surgery and while that could have been removed, I chose to wait on it due to what happened. Problems with anaesthetic are probably a patient’s worst nightmare and I can’t believe it happened to me.
“I’m just trying to establish whether more should have been done to prevent what happened.”
Somerset case study
Irwin Mitchell’s second client affected by anaesthetic problems during surgery at Yeovil District Hospital wishes not to be named. She required a gynaecological procedure in 2018 and was given a spinal rather than general anaesthetic.
The woman who is in her 30s said: “As I have had children I knew how an epidural felt and I remember thinking that it was not the same experience. It felt like the anaesthetic had not worked.
“We went into theatre and I actually screamed out when the surgeon cut my belly button. However, I had an oxygen mask on and a curtain was also up, so no one responded. A laparoscope was then placed inside me and I was in agony and the final straw was when my abdomen was filled with gas.”
An increase in blood pressure alerted medical staff to the patient’s discomfort but the procedure was seen through to its conclusion. As she was taken into surgery, the patient said she was told by the surgeon that he had never undertaken such a procedure on a conscious patient which naturally added to her anxiety of the situation.
Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted that the woman should have received a general anaesthetic rather than a spinal anaesthetic.
She said: “I have suffered a lot with PTSD and the nightmares have been horrendous. I have these images lying on a table with people watching me and not listening to my screams. It is terrible and I can wake up around three times a week due to this.
“I’m also now very nervous and paranoid around doctors too – my trust has just been shattered.
“While nothing will change what has happened to me, I just hope that lessons can be learned so no one else faces similar problems in the future. The past year has been so difficult. I would not want what happened to me to happen to anyone else.”