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Settlement for client following failure to diagnose anal abscess

Woman underwent emergency surgery following failure to detect anal abscess

Posted on 25 September 2017

A woman known as H has settled her clinical negligence claim after doctors failed to diagnose that she was suffering from an anal abscess.

H was represented by clinical negligence solicitor Ceilidh Robertson.

H was referred to see a gastroenterologist at a private hospital after she presented to her GP complaining of pain in the anal region and a change in bowel habits. H was referred via the Choose and Book System which allowed NHS patients to choose to be seen at a private hospital as long as that hospital provided services to the NHS. Claims relating to care provided under the Choose and Book System can be brought against the Secretary of State for Health and they are indemnified by the NHSRA. 

Following investigations H was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. She was also found to have an anal fissure which is a small tear in the lining of the anal canal and can be quite common, especially among patients with Crohn’s Disease. 

The accepted treatment plan for anal fissures is to treat them conservatively because, in the majority of cases, they heal by themselves without any treatment being necessary. Despite this, H’s gastroenterologist advised her that she would need to undergo surgery to treat the fissure.

The operation introduced an infection into H’s system and, as a result, she developed an anal abscess. H went back to see her gastroenterologist several times over the subsequent months complaining of increasing pain and discomfort. Eventually an MRI was carried out but, despite the abscess being visible on the scan, H’s gastroenterologist failed to diagnose it.

H’s condition deteriorated to such a degree that she developed sepsis and had to be taken by ambulance to hospital where emergency surgery was carried out to drain the abscess. H underwent multiple further invasive surgical procedures including an ileostomy. Fortunately H’s ileostomy was temporary and could be reversed after 20 months.

Ceilidh Robertson from the medical negligence team at Leigh Day brought a claim against the Secretary of State for Health alleging that it was negligent to have operated on the anal fissure and that this caused the anal abscess. There was a further failure by the doctor in not diagnosing the abscess which led to it becoming so severe that H required emergency surgery.

Ceilidh settled the case for a five figure sum. She said:

“H became so unwell that she required emergency surgery and several further invasive procedures including an ileostomy which left her with a stoma for 20 months. H would have avoided all of these interventions had her gastroenterologist followed the accepted treatment plan in relation to anal fissures. I am pleased that H has been adequately compensated for losses that she has suffered as a result of this doctor’s negligence.”

H said:

“From the moment I went to Leigh Day everyone was very helpful and considerate of my situation. Ceilidh was a consummate professional dealing with my case but always had the time to talk to me if I ever had questions or I was unsure about any part of the process. Whilst I will not get the time back I lost to being ill I was very happy with the settlement and grateful to Ceilidh for negotiating the figure I received.”