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Man left with debilitating hernia due to hospital negligence following colorectal surgery

Man awarded six-figure sum after hospital's failure to diagnose a perforated bowel led to him undergoing a colostomy

Posted on 16 March 2020

A man, who we have called Grant, has settled his medical negligence claim against King’s College Hospitals NHS Trust for a six-figure sum after a hospital failed to diagnose and treat a perforated bowel before he became critically ill with sepsis. 

Grant instructed specialist medical negligence solicitor Angharad Vaughan, to represent him and bring a claim for clinical negligence.

Before having a routine operation to remove haemorrhoids in June 2013 at the Sloane Hospital in Beckenham, Grant was in good health, swimming two or three times a week and working as a gardener.  

After the surgery, Grant was discharged home on the same day. By the evening, he had started to suffer from rectal pain, felt nauseous, began to shiver and had problems urinating. He went back to the Sloane Hospital but was sent home with different painkillers. His condition became worse at home with a fever, bowel incontinence, severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. 

Two days later, he was re-admitted to the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington. Rather than being treated for sepsis, he was reassured that this was normal following the operation and that things would settle.

Grant then endured five days of pain, suffering and mental anguish, during which he was not given the treatment he needed. Even though he was extremely unwell, he was sent home with a course of antibiotics and painkillers.

Grant’s condition continued to deteriorate at home over four days and he was re-admitted to the Princess Royal Hospital in agony with a suspected pelvic abscess. There were then further delays in investigating his condition and providing treatment. Grant was so unwell that he thought he would die. 

A few days later, Grant was finally moved to King’s College Hospital where it was confirmed that he had a perforated bowel and he required emergency surgery to save his life.

After surgery, Grant was told that the surgeons had seen a ‘mess’ inside his abdomen and, because he had gone without the right treatment for so long, the sepsis had rotted away a significant part of his bowel, and that he may be left with a permanent colostomy.  

Over the next year, Grant had a very slow and painful recovery, which involved many more surgical procedures to form a colostomy, treat ulcers and remove scar tissue. 

In May 2014, against all the odds, Grant was able to have his colostomy reversed. 

However, in November 2014 Grant became critically ill again and had to have an emergency operation to remove a metre of his bowel because it had become tangled by scar tissue. He endured another long and painful recovery.

Grant now lives with major abdominal scarring and a large hernia. He has been unable to continue in his job as a gardener as he has to avoid heavy lifting, and he has had to adapt his life as a result of his injury. 

Grant brought a claim for clinical negligence which, following a prolonged process of negotiation, resulted in a six-figure sum of compensation for his avoidable pain and suffering and financial losses. The Trust admitted that there was a delay in diagnosis of a bowel perforation and sepsis but did not make a full admission of liability.

Grant said:

“Without the support of Angharad, both as a professional and a person who really cares, I'm not sure I would have survived this process half as well as I believe I have, both financially and, in many ways more importantly to me, emotionally.”

Angharad Vaughan, specialist medical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day, said:

“This was a shocking case of a catalogue of failures to provide my client with basic medical care, which led to a prolonged period of indescribable suffering.

"To add insult to injury, the hospital then failed to respond to his complaint and lost all the key medical records. The NHS has a duty to be candid with patients when things go wrong, which didn’t happen in this case. 

“Although no amount of money can ever properly compensate Grant for his ordeal, I am pleased that we were able to secure a large sum for him, which has relieved his financial pressure and enabled him to plan for his future.”