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Two East Midlands Families Take Legal Action After Loved Ones Die After Surgery By Prof David Berry

Irwin Mitchell Instructed To Investigate Treatment For Both Patients


Two Leicestershire families whose loved ones died following treatment by a surgeon who was suspended because of concerns over his treatment are taking legal action.

Both patients, Dennis Setchell and Anne Lovell died following procedures performed by Professor David Berry at Leicester General Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary between 2003 and 2008.

Their families have instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have successfully settled cases on behalf of other families affected by Prof Berry’s treatment. The Liver surgeon was suspended in January 2013 over concerns that out of an investigation into 10 deaths under his care, eight were avoidable.

Dennis, from Barrow-upon-Soar near Loughborough had successful bowel cancer surgery in 2007. During his treatment it was discovered that he had liver metastases and he was referred to Professor Berry at Leicester General Hospital

Surgery to remove part of his liver by Professor Berry in March 2008 was aborted due to a cardiac event during the operation. Dennis was advised by Professor Berry to proceed again with surgery on 10th September 2008.

The liver surgery took place and a further operation occurred on 11th September 2008 as a result of excessive bleeding during the previous day’s surgery which medical staff had struggled to stop and he was transferred to ICU and put in a medically induced coma for 12 days. He regained consciousness and was moved onto the general ward but his condition started to deteriorate and his organs began to fail.

Dennis’ family were left with the heart breaking decision at his bedside to give permission to turn off his life support and Dennis died on 2nd October 2008, aged 77-years-old.

Following investigations into Dennis’ case by the Royal College of Surgeons it was disclosed to his family by the hospital that the findings stated that the decision to operate was inappropriate. Dennis had been advised on two separate occasions that there was only a 2 per cent risk of mortality, when in fact; the risk was 98 per cent.

The family were told that that following ‘a long, bloody and over-aggressive procedure’ it was documented by the RCS that Dennis had little chance of survival from that point in view of his history and that the liver remnant remaining was too small for him to survive.

Anne Lovell worked in midwifery for over 25 years at Kettering General Hospital and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2003. She was referred to Professor Berry at Leicester Royal Infirmary to discuss her treatment. As the cancer was in its early stages, she was advised that she should have surgery and it was agreed that she would have part of her pancreas removed. She was in theatre for over 10 hours and died 72 hours later on 22nd October 2003 from multi-organ failure and blood poisoning.

Anne’s son, Andrew discovered this year after he was contacted by Leicester Royal Infirmary that an independent investigation was being carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons’ into Professor Berry’s patients and found out that his 66-year-old mother had her entire pancreas removed by him.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell successfully settled a case against Prof Berry where Martyn Rogers, from Wales died of blood poisoning and acute liver failure on 25 July 2012 after he had surgery by Professor Berry to remove tumours from his liver at University of Wales. Three days after his surgery his organs began to shut down and it was discovered that one of his major veins had been damaged.

The law firm will now be seeking to work with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust to resolve the cases on their clients’ behalf.

Expert Opinion
“We are deeply concerned to learn that more families of people who have tragically lost their lives are concerned about the treatment they received under Professor Berry.

“We have previously represented families in Wales with similar cases and we learnt that there were eight avoidable deaths within just 18 months after an investigation carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) about his time employed by the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

“Our clients Andrew Lovell and Jean Setchell, and no doubt the other families who have lost loved ones, now deserve quick and transparent information from the NHS Trust about the treatment they received. They want to know if there were mistakes made during their loved ones care and whether action is being taken to improve patient safety and prevent any further avoidable deaths.

“We will now continue to work with Dennis’ and Anne’s families to gain the answers they need and deserve so they can begin to come to terms with their loss.”
Emma Rush, Partner

Anne’s son, Andrew, 41, said: “When I was invited back into to the hospital to discuss my mum’s treatment, it was the first time I knew that Professor Berry had removed the entire pancreas and was completely shocked and angry about it. Leading up to the surgery, my mum commented on how pleased she was that she was only having a partial removal of the pancreas as I don’t think she would have ever consented to the procedure she was actually given.

“As a family we spent a lot of time grieving over the loss of my mum and with the new information coming to light about Professor Berry it feels as though we have to start the whole process again. My mum’s prognosis was promising and we were led to believe that the operation was going to help her.

“I feel like I have lost valuable time with her and I would like to find out why Professor Berry performed an operation without our consent and robbed my father and I the chance to properly say goodbye to her.

“We will now fight for justice on Anne’s behalf as we need to get to the bottom of exactly what has gone wrong.”

Jean, 80, who was married to Dennis for 50 years, said: “When my children alerted me to an investigation into the practices of Professor Berry I was very surprised and then once I received a copy of the Royal College of Surgeons’ report I was devastated and heartbroken to read the findings.

“We were told on two separate occasions that Dennis’ procedure had a 2 per cent mortality risk, but in fact it was 98 per cent and it was clearly documented that there was always little chance of Dennis surviving the operations that were performed.

“My family and I have been left feeling utterly devastated that Dennis’ death might have been prevented and that we have been denied the opportunity to spend his final days with him and being given the chance to say a proper goodbye.

“To also find out that so many other families have been affected by the treatment and care given to them by Professor Berry is appalling and I hope that with the help of our legal team at Irwin Mitchell that we will be able to seek justice in Dennis’ memory and together we are able to uncover more answers to our questions.”

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of surgical negligence, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.

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