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Settlement For Family Of Man Who Died Following Treatment By Surgeon Suspended After Concerns Over His Abilities

Royal College of Surgeons Report Reveals Dennis Setchell Died Following “A Long, Bloody And Over-Aggressive Procedure” By Prof David Berry


The family of a man who died following treatment by surgeon Professor Berry who was suspended because of concerns over his abilities have received an undisclosed settlement from the NHS Trust responsible for his care.

Dennis Setchell died following procedures performed by Professor David Berry at Leicester General Hospital in 2008 but an investigation found he was not properly informed of the risks involved and the decision to operate was inappropriate.

The 77-year-old’s family instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who secured a settlement for the family after investigating the care provided. The law firm has also 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 Prof. Berry at Leicester General Hospital.

Surgery to remove part of his liver by Prof. Berry in March 2008 was aborted due to a cardiac event during the operation, and Dennis was advised by the surgeon to proceed again on September 10, later that year.

The liver operation took place, with a further operation the following day as a result of excessive bleeding which medical staff had struggled to stop. Dennis was transferred to ICU and put in a medically induced coma for 12 days.

He was later moved onto the general ward when he regained consciousness, but his condition started to deteriorate and his organs began to fail.

Dennis’ heartbroken family were told nothing further could be done for him, so made the decision turn off his life support machine. He died on October 2, 2008.

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

The family was 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.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell also successfully settled a case against Prof Berry where a man from Wales died of blood poisoning and acute liver failure in 2012 after he had surgery by Prof Berry to remove tumours from his liver at University Hospital 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.

Emma Rush, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Dennis’ family, said: “We were deeply concerned to have learned of more people who have tragically lost their lives following treatment they received under Professor Berry.


“We have previously represented a family 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.

“Dennis’ wife Jean has been left devastated by her husband’s unexpected and unavoidable death, but was forced to wait eight years before University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust admitted liability and settled the case.


“We hope that this case has highlighted issues within the Trust which allowed this surgeon to continue treating patients when there was clearly concern over his methods. It certainly raises questions about how Prof Berry was able to continue practicing for so long despite a significant number of deaths following his care.

Daniel Waller, Dennis’ son-in-law, from Lincoln, said: “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.

“I am relieved that our legal team has been able to finally secure justice for Dennis and that now my family and I can concentrate our thoughts on fond memories of him, rather than his distressing final weeks.”

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.

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