Advising with empathy and experience

Damages award for aortic injury suffered in laparoscopic surgery.

Helen Caulfield of the CNCI team has successfully concluded a claim as a result of injuries sustained during a laparoscopic (keyhole) hysterectomy. During the procedure there was an injury to the Claimant's aorta resulting in rapid and significant blood loss. The surgical procedure had to be converted to a laparotomy in order to treat the injury and repair the damage.


Although the operating surgeon apologised to the patient and her family for aspects of surgical technique, the Defendant Trust argued that the possibility of injury to blood vessels was an acknowledged risk of the procedure. The Claimant's gynaecological expert confirmed that the consented risk of injury for this procedure related to other (minor) blood vessels, not the aorta. The Claimant's gynaecology expert was adamant that, given the position of the aorta and appropriate laparoscopic technique, any injury to the aorta could only have occurred as the result of negligence.


Despite the evidence from the Claimant's expert, the representatives of the Defendant Trust denied all allegations in their formal responses to the Claim both before and after the commencement of Court proceedings. They ignored attempts to reach a negotiated settlement.


It was not until a preliminary Court hearing was anticipated that the Defendants representatives made a first, and low, offer of £20,000 in settlement of the claim.  In further negotiations the Defendants representatives agreed to increase their settlement offer to £37,000. The Claimant, who had been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of her experiences, accepted this sum, plus costs in settlement of her claim.


Speaking of the settlement, Helen Caulfield said, "This case involved a relatively routine procedure that resulted in a potentially life-threatening injury. The operating surgeon was open and frank in subsequent discussions with the family but, sadly, this was not the attitude adopted by the Trust's representatives who contested every aspect of the claim until a preliminary Court hearing seemed inevitable. We are pleased that the matter was ultimately capable of resolution before a Court hearing and hope that the settlement will allow the Claimant to move forward and begin the process of putting these distressing events behind her".