Medical Law Expert Calls For Improvements In Training And Supervision During Key-Hole Ops
A PE teacher who now suffers regular pain when she exercises after surgeons cut a major artery during a routine key-hole operation to remove a cyst from her ovary has been awarded a substantial five-figure settlement as she is unable to pursue her ‘dream’ career as a personal trainer.
Mum-of-two Anna Robinson from Horsmonden in Kent suffers from claudication (pain in the lower leg due to limited blood flow to the muscles) after a doctor cut an artery near her pelvis that provides the main blood supply to her right leg, when she was in Pembury Hospital in November 2007.
Anna, who says sport was her life before the operation, worked as a PE teacher for five years in Poland before moving to the UK where she intended to become a personal trainer, but her career plans have been ruined as she will never have normal blood flow to her leg again causing pain when she exercises and her legs to get tired very easily.
The 36-year-old contacted medical law and patient’s rights experts at Irwin Mitchell who have secured an out-of-court settlement of £85,000 from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust to fund her loss of earnings, past care and physiotherapy.
Kate Major, who specialises in surgery claims at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said: “The result of this operation has had a huge effect on Anna’s life causing her regular pain during exercise and unable to follow her chosen career path.
“She loved sharing her passion of being healthy and keeping fit with others but isn’t able to enjoy such an active lifestyle now and is very self-conscious about the scar she has been left with.
“Her dedication to improving her condition by exercising, although painful, has meant some of her other arteries have widened to increase the blood flow to her right leg but she will never be completely cured.
“She is currently working as a supply teacher but isn’t able to get fully involved in the physical activity like she used to and has to explain things rather than demonstrating.
“Although Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust refused to admit liability we hope lessons are learnt by staff who carry out key-hole surgery and that the training and supervision is improved to prevent similar mistakes being made in the future.”
Anna was admitted on the morning of 6 November 2007 for the surgery and was told it would be a routine operation taking just 45 minutes and her husband Peter, 50, would be able to take her home later that day.
But at 2.30pm Peter was called by the hospital asking him to return immediately and when he arrived he was told Anna was still in surgery and a vascular surgeon had been called in from King’s College in London.
After six-and-a-half hours in theatre, Anna was transferred to the intensive care unit at Kent & Sussex Hospital where she spent two days needing 24-hour support and a further two days at Pembury recovering on a general ward before being allowed home.
Anna said: “I was taken down to theatre believing I was having a routine operation that would be finished after 45 minutes but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
“I lost a lot of blood during the operation and had to have a blood transfusion which was a big shock as we thought the surgery was routine. I underwent the operation not only in the hope that it would resolve my pelvic pain but because I wanted another child and the cyst could have caused problems with conceiving.
“We’re still not sure why my artery was cut but I have been left with a huge scar on my lower stomach because of the complicated repair work my artery needed and I’ve had more surgery to try and reduce this.
“The other arteries in my leg have widened through the exercises I do but this can be really painful for me. I’ve had to buy exercise equipment so I can train at home and while doctors are amazed by my progress, I’ll never get back the levels of strength and fitness I used to have. I can’t wear high heels anymore and it hurts to even walk up a hill.
“I still struggle to believe that I can’t pursue the career I dreamed about and trained so hard for. Sport was my life before the operation. I just hope the hospital has learnt from what happened so nobody else has to go through what I have.”
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