Penningtons Manches has settled a claim against the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for a man who suffered injury during negligent surgery for suspected appendicitis.

Our client was admitted to the Royal Surrey County Hospital suffering from abdominal pains. Radiological imaging was consistent with acute appendicitis and a decision was made to proceed to surgery. During the surgery, the surgeon (a junior registrar) stated that the appendix did not look inflamed and diagnosed a likely diverticulitis intraoperatively. The appendix was removed and during the surgery an inadvertent 1cm hole was made in our client’s sigmoid colon. The surgeon then attempted to repair the defect himself without calling for consultant assistance and the repair was substandard.

The patient felt extremely unwell following the surgery and, after six days, purulent and faecal matter was found to be spilling from his abdominal wound. The consultant surgeon then performed an emergency laparotomy to repair the injury to the sigmoid colon which had been inadequately repaired by the registrar in the original operation. After a long stay in hospital and a difficult recovery period with infection and a leaking wound, our client was discharged for further recovery at home. It took a further seven months for his abdominal wounds to heal and he has been left with significant scarring.

Penningtons Manches submitted a letter of claim on the basis of expert evidence, alleging that there was a breach of duty of care by the junior surgeon for failing to perform the original abdominal surgery appropriately; failing to call for consultant assistance to repair the damage caused by the perforation of the sigmoid colon; and then failing to be open about what had occurred afterwards which resulted in delays in the damage being identified and repaired.

It was alleged that the negligence caused our client suffering pain and emotional distress due to the faecal contamination of his abdomen and wound; the need for an urgent laparotomy under general anaesthetic to repair his damaged colon; an extended hospital stay following the laparotomy; post-operative wound infection; a prolonged recovery period, including severe and prolonged abdominal wall inflammation and a painful series of wound management during a seven month period of wound healing; ongoing neuropathic pain in his abdomen; additional abdominal scarring in the form of a 30cm long midline scar from the laparotomy; additional abdominal adhesions; bowel problems and psychiatric injury in the form of anxiety and depression.

The claim was subsequently admitted by the Trust and our client was invited to obtain and disclose quantum evidence. We investigated our client’s condition and prognosis and prepared a schedule of loss. The matter settled after an exchange of offers to settle.