Compensation after appendix op negligence

17 February 2022

The Higgs LLP medical negligence team moved swiftly and effectively to secure £20,000 in NHS compensation for a woman who needlessly suffered and was prescribed unnecessary medication following a botched appendix operation.

Charlotte Measures, Legal Director, was pleased with the quick outcome, which prevented prolonged litigation and further stress and anxiety for the claimant.

Our client was admitted to hospital after suffering from prolonged abdominal pain that was diagnosed as appendicitis. Consequently, the client underwent a ‘laparoscopy with appendicectomy’ in which the surgeon failed to remove all the appendix.

Our client continued to suffer from pain and feeling unwell and was readmitted to hospital in 2017 reporting similar abdominal pain as she had suffered previously. Following an examination, our client was incorrectly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and subsequently prescribed steroids and immunosuppressant medication.

Unfortunately, our client continued to suffer from nausea, bloating and right sided abdominal pain but was repeatedly reassured this was because of her Crohn’s disease and side effects from medication she had been prescribed.

Eventually, an MRI scan taken in 2018 revealed no evidence of Crohn’s disease but did reveal an appendix stump which was later removed, alleviating many of the symptoms our client had been reporting.

As a result of the defendant’s failure to correctly remove the entirety of our client’s appendix and to accurately diagnose the cause of our client’s issues, she had suffered from prolonged pain and had been prescribed unnecessary medication.

In their pre-action letter of the response, the defendant argued that failure to remove the entirety of the appendix was a ‘surgical error’, not a negligent breach of duty. However, they did accept there had been a delay in carrying out an ileocolonoscopy to rule out the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and therefore argued liability should be limited to one year for the delay in the correct diagnosis.

A Professor of Surgery instructed on behalf of Higgs confirmed that the failure to remove the entirety of the appendix fell below the acceptable standard of care, supporting the claim that there had been a negligent breach of duty on behalf of the defendant.

In addition, a Consultant Psychiatrist concluded that the medication prescribed and period of time during which the client had suffered pain, disability and loss of amenity had led to our client suffering with anxiety and depression. He also confirmed that our client would require ongoing treatment to reduce her psychological symptoms.

The key issue remained regarding the value of the claim as the defendant maintained there had not been a negligent breach of duty and had therefore originally submitted an offer to settle for £6,000 for the delay in diagnosis.

However, experts instructed by Higgs LLP maintained the failure to remove the entirety of the appendix was negligent and therefore the claimant should be entitled to greater compensation.

The position was assessed as being contentious if the matter went to trial, as damages recoverable would be dependent on the Judge’s decision whether the surgery had been negligently performed.

As a result of careful negotiations by Higgs LLP, the matter was settled for £20,000 in favour of our client - considerably in excess of the sum originally offered by the defendant. This was achieved whilst protecting our client from further psychological stress by avoiding prolonging the matter and the client was happy with the sum recovered.

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