£446,000 for a 52-year-old man for losing anal control as well as other injuries after being advised to have the wrong type of surgery to treat suspected bowel cancer.
The claimant (C) had suffered with a background condition of ulcerative colitis for over 15 years. It is well known that there is an association between that condition and the development of bowel cancer. In 2011, he underwent surgery for suspected bowel cancer. This was a procedure called an extended right hemicolectomy. This is a procedure to remove part of the colon and is intended to preserve function of the bowels.
Histopathology tests were done on the surgical tissues that had been removed. The results showed extensive ulcerative colitis but confirmed previous test results that there was no evidence of dysplasia or malignancy.
Unfortunately, C suffering complications after the hemicolectomy with leakage in the surgical area. This meant emergency surgery was needed ultimately by way of an open procedure(where the surgeon enters the body through the abdomen). C was left with a stoma bag after the further surgery. Faeces had caused contamination internally and C was so unwell that he needed care in the intensive care unit where he suffered septicaemia, multi-organ failure, bilateral pleural effusions, hypotension and pyrexia. An enterocutaneous fistula (hole) developed in the small bowel which led to discharge through the main abdominal wound.
C's partner was advised that C was unlikely to survive. However, C's condition slowly improved and after 3 months he was discharged from hospital.
Investigations the next year, by way of sigmoidoscopy, revealed further progression in his condition of colitis and because of the surgical complications he had suffered, he was advised he would need further surgery and that he would have to live with a stoma bag permanently.
C’s claim was somewhat unusual. He alleged that he should not have been advised to undergo the less radical hemicolectomy procedure. Because of his background condition of colitis and the suspected cancer, he argued that all surgeons experienced in treating ulcerative colitis should have recommended far more extensive surgery. This would involve removing the large bowel, colon, rectum and upper anal cancer, as long as there was no spread of cancer elsewhere. Had this been done, he should have avoided all of the complications that had occurred in relation to the hemicolectomy and also having to live with a stoma.
Liability was admitted in this case.
C suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. He had to medically retire from his job as a postman. However, he was able to self-care i.e. look after himself day to day.
Out of the £446,000 settlement £83,000 was allocated to pain and suffering (general damages), with £133,000 for past financial losses and the balance of the monies was for future anticipated financial losses (earnings, loss of pension, medical treatment and care needed etc).
Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £75,000;