Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team has successfully concluded a claim against Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust which has resulted in the patient receiving almost £60,000 more in damages than he was initially offered by the NHS Litigation Authority.

The patient went into urinary retention and was admitted to accident and emergency at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth in January 2012. Multiple attempts at urethral catheterisation were made, causing injury to his urethra which resulted in the need for a suprapubic catheter. This was eventually removed in May 2012. Six months later, he developed a swelling in the suprapubic area and was referred to a consultant general surgeon who noted a tender nodule/hernia in the area which was causing significant discomfort and recommended exploration and repair. During surgery, an abscess was identified and on removing this, a small channel of pus was found exuding from a defect in the linea alba. The wound continued to discharge pus and serous fluid.  

Additional investigations showed a retropubic collection and an infected hernia mesh. The abdominal sinus was found to lead to a retropubic abscess containing the medial portion of his old hernia mesh. Although the infected mesh was excised, the patient went on to develop a further lump underneath his previous groin exploration scar and again consulted the general surgeon, who confirmed that a further abscess was brewing. At the end of December 2013, surgery was performed to remove the remainder of the hernia mesh.  Thankfully, by the time a review took place in February 2014, the patient was feeling much better and the wound was dry.

He made a complaint to the hospital and the NHS Litigation Authority became involved. It admitted that the urethral catheterisation in accident and emergency was performed incorrectly, resulting in injury and the need for a suprapubic catheter, and offered £5,000 by way of compensation. While acknowledging the admission, the patient was concerned that the NHS Litigation Authority had not fully appreciated the extent of his injury – he had required multiple procedures to deal with the consequences of the suprapubic catheter and suffered further injury and loss of earnings. The NHS Litigation Authority suggested that he instruct solicitors if he was unhappy with the award. 

Elise Bevan, a senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, was appointed to act on the patient’s behalf. Commenting on his case, she said: “At the outset, this appeared to be a relatively straightforward claim. It was clear that the NHS Litigation Authority had undervalued the case and we advised our client not to accept the offer of £5,000. We embarked on a series of investigations aimed at valuing the case and in September 2014 we presented full details to the NHS Litigation Authority, making an offer to settle for the sum of £75,000. The NHS Litigation Authority failed to respond and we had no choice but to issue court proceedings.  

“Despite pointing out that this was a straightforward case, the trust’s solicitors decided to conduct their own investigations only to confirm 12 months later that they agreed with our position. Settlement was concluded at £64,850. What is frustrating about this case is that it could have been resolved 12 months earlier – there was no difference in the evidence at that time. Unfortunately, the NHS Litigation Authority and its solicitor caused unnecessary delays together with unnecessary costs.”