Lawyers Speak Of Concern Over Investigation Into Nearly 300 Cases Involving Consultant
A woman has called for lessons to be learned after a Hospital Trust investigating nearly 300 cases involving a gynaecologist apologised for her care which “fell significantly below” standards.
The woman has now instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.
The Trust and NHS England has contacted 272 women as part of an investigation into the work of the obstetrics and gynaecology consultant between 2015 and 2018.
The investigation has been expanded after the Trust identified eight patients who had experienced “unnecessary harm” during an initial review of 57 cases. It added that the total number of patients potentially affected would not be known until the review, overseen by NHS England, was completed.
The consultant was based at the Royal Derby Hospital but no longer works at the Trust and has not undertaken any clinical activity there since June 2018.
The Trust has declined to name the surgeon.
The woman is among a number who have contacted Irwin Mitchell for support. The surgeon performed a hysterectomy on her at the Royal Derby Hospital in June 2018. During the procedure she suffered complications. She lost around two-and-a-half litres of blood when her bowel was cut, a serious incident investigation report by the Trust found.
The Trust said that other non-surgical treatment methods could have been considered and discussed with the woman before she underwent a hysterectomy.
In a letter Sandra Coates, review project lead, apologised to the woman.
She added: “It is clear from our review that your treatment and care fell significantly below the standard we aim to provide and this has led to you having ongoing health concerns.”
Millie Bolsover is the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the woman, a mum-of-three in her 40s and from Derby, who does not want to be named.
She said: “We’re incredibly concerned by the news that nearly 300 women are having their cases reviewed.
“Patients will understandably be incredibly nervous about receiving confirmation and will rightly have a number of questions.
“In this case the Trust itself has identified extremely worrying issues, particularly around our client not being able to make an informed decision about her care and the standard of surgery itself. Our client continues to live with the physical and psychological effects of what happened to her. We’re now investigating her concerns further to ensure she has all of the answers she deserves to her questions.
“In the meantime it’s vital that lessons are learned from the issues that have been highlighted and other women receive the help and support they may require.”
The woman had visited her GP in November 2017 complaining that she had experienced 18 months of abdominal bloating and her periods had become heavier and more painful. Following scans she was diagnosed with adenomyosis which sees tissue that normally lines the womb start to grow within muscle.
The woman was referred to Derby and University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. In February 2018 she was seen by the gynaecologist who discussed a hysterectomy with her, the report said. She underwent the procedure in June 2018 during which her bowel was cut.
The woman had stents fitted. She spent nine days in hospital and had to undergo further surgery at a later date to remove the stents. She was required ongoing care from the gynaecology team, the report said.
It found there was no evidence that the woman had not been counselled regarding alternative treatment options prior to agreeing to a hysterectomy.
The NHS website says a hysterectomy can cure adenomyosis, but will only be considered if all other treatments have failed.
If the woman had received alternative treatment before surgery, “it is likely” that she would not have suffered the complications and would not have required additional care.
The woman said: “The last few years and trying to come to terms with what happened has been incredibly difficult. It’s not just the physical pain; it’s also the emotional upset this has caused.
“I put my faith in what I was being told. Why would you have reason to think that what a consultant is telling may not be the most appropriate option?
“It was only when the Trust got in touch to say they were investigating that it started to dawn on me. I started to wonder what had happened and whether more should have been done to treat me. To find out that I wasn’t fully informed of all my options before electing to have a hysterectomy is what upsets me the most.
“If I’d have known then what I know now I wouldn’t have agreed to surgery without first seeing if other treatments could have helped me. A hysterectomy is a major life-changing decision and isn’t one you make lightly.
“I’m upset and angry of what happened to me and to find out that potentially hundreds more women could be affected is deeply worrying.
“Nothing can make up for what has happened and how my life has been affected but it’s vital that lessons are learned from my case and others women are aware so they can receive support if they need it.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting patients affected by surgery at our medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.