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Woman receives seven-figure sum following a failure to detect and treat post-operative bile leak

​A woman suffering long-term biliary tract complications as a result of the delay in detecting and treating post-operative bile leak has received a seven-figure sum in compensation

Medical equipment

20 October 2017

The woman, known as Rachel to protect her identity, was diagnosed with biliary cholic in around October 2010. She was placed on a waiting list for laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery, which she underwent in February 2011.
Following the surgery, Rachel complained of pain in her abdominal region. Various investigations were undertaken but no cause was identified. She was subsequently discharged home a number of days later.
The day after her discharge, Rachel was readmitted to the emergency department with pain in her upper right quadrant.  She underwent further investigations, including a CT scan, the results of which were suggestive of a bile leak. However, percutaneous drainage of the bile leak was not commenced until around a week later. 
In early March, Rachel was transferred to a private hospital at her own request. On admission she underwent further investigations which revealed grossly abnormal liver function. She underwent a magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography which identified a hepatic duct injury, thought to be the cause of the bile leak, necessitating surgery in the form of an emergency laparotomy. During the procedure a gall bladder leak was identified and repaired.
Since then, Rachel has required major liver re-sectional surgery and bile duct reconstructive surgery. She suffers daily, at times chronic, abdominal pain which is likely to be permanent and has also suffered psychological symptoms as a result of the traumatic events.
Rachel brought a legal claim against the NHS Trust involved arguing that there was a negligent delay in investigating and treating her bile duct injury, which caused her long-term biliary tract complications. The trust admitted liability for the delay in diagnosing and treating the biliary leak, and settlement negotiations were entered into with Rachel eventually receiving a substantial lump sum award.
Rachel said:
“Suzanne White and Matthew Westlake have been brilliant in handling my medical negligence claim.  
“I was very nervous at the beginning and worried about the amount of paperwork that would be involved, I was also scared about having to relive my ordeal whilst still suffering and being poorly.  
“Both Suzanne and Matthew were always supportive, friendly and happy to answer any questions or worries I had, no matter how small or insignificant they seemed.  I would like to thank them and their amazing team very much for all their hard work and dedication.”
Suzanne White, clinical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day,  who represented Rachel in her case said:
“I am extremely pleased to have been able to recover a substantive reward for Rachel. She is a young woman with a life-changing and debilitating injury, which should never have happened to her.”
Matthew Westlake, solicitor assisting on Rachel’s case, said:
“The consequences of the delay in identifying and treating the biliary leak have had a significant impact on Rachel’s life. She has a young family which she now struggles to care for, and has been unable to return to work since the date of the injury. 
“I am pleased that we have managed to settle this claim on Rachel’s behalf and hope that the sum received will help her obtain the care and support she requires as a result of the hospital’s negligence.”

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