Mrs L contacted us after she underwent a routine hysterectomy which caused severe damage to her bladder and has left her with potentially needing her left kidney removed in the future.
In 2009, Mrs L was diagnosed with breast cancer, she successfully underwent surgery and radiotherapy to remove the tumour. As part of her treatment, she was prescribed Tamoxifen, a hormonal therapy drug that often stops the menstrual cycle.
A few of years later in late 2012, Mrs L began to bleed again despite still taking Tamoxifen – a sign that something may be wrong. Concerned, she visited her local gynaecologist who arranged a biopsy to find the cause of the problem. Upon receiving her results – which inconclusively suggested that the Tamoxifen may have led to cancer of the womb – the doctor recommended a hysterectomy along with removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Several months later, Mrs L was admitted to hospital for the procedure. Originally reassured that keyhole surgery would be all that was necessary to remove her womb, she was informed by doctors post-surgery that because her womb was so swollen, a larger incision had been required to remove it. She was also fitted with a catheter while her bladder recovered from the surgery.
Recalling when she first woke up after the surgery, Mrs L said: “Shortly after the operation, I was in immense pain; and regardless of what medication I was given, nothing seemed to ease it at all. I had a terrible, trapped-wind pain around my left kidney, which I thought had been caused by the gases they used during surgery. I was given peppermint cordial by the nurses several times, but it just didn’t help.”
“The pain continued over the next few days as well. I would lie in bed and rock myself backwards and forwards trying to ease the agony but again nothing helped. The rest of my stay was something of a blur – I was taking as much pain medication as I possibly could because of the amount I was suffering. I felt really nauseous all the time too.”
Mrs L was discharged from hospital after feeling pressured to give up her bed. She was sent home with oral pain relief however over the next few days her condition worsened, with neither the prescribed medication nor over-the-counter solutions having any effect. Her symptoms deteriorated daily, and she became feverish and suffered from nightly hallucinations.
5 days after being discharged, Mrs L was rushed back into hospital, with doctors concerned she may have developed sepsis and therefore she was placed on a course of intravenous antibiotics. It turned out that the catheter was not fitted correctly and was causing urine to leak through a tear in her bladder, which she was completely powerless to control.
“I was absolutely devastated that this leakage problem had developed. The doctors were very vague and so I was still completely unaware as to why this had happened, which was extremely scary. My head was all over the place, wondering how I was going to live my life like this – if I could work again, if I could ever again enjoy a normal relationship with my husband. I felt totally overwhelmed and missed the life I felt that at that point I had lost. For a time, I actually thought it would have been easier if I had cancer of the womb after all. I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life – devastated, angry, scared, and no longer in control of my own body.”Mrs L
Having to rely heavily on incontinence pads to stem the leakage problems, Mrs L was continuously in and out of hospital over the next few weeks, spending days at a time on the ward. The doctors planned to insert a stent – a small mesh tube that is used to keep blocked passageways around the body open – to solve the incontinence problem. However, a breakdown in communication between the medical staff meant that she was wrongly injected with medication that meant she could no longer safely undergo the procedure.
During a scan Mrs L was later informed that her kidney was smaller than it should be, and there was fluid around it. It was discovered that during the surgery, her ureter had been shockingly burned and damaged, causing the kidney to waste away. A few weeks later a tube connected to a urine collection bag was fitted in order to drain urine from the kidney, and a stent was finally inserted.
The bag was removed a few days later and Mrs L was discharged again, however the stent caused her further urinary problems and infections, requiring her to take even more time off work while she attempted to recover.
In November 2013, Mrs L was also informed that her kidney problems had worsened, and was only performing at 20% of its capacity. This continued to deteriorate until it was reduced to almost no functionality (10%) a year later.
After realising that errors had been made with her care, Mrs L contacted Fletchers to see if she could bring a claim again the hospital trust and ensure this would not happen again to anyone else.
We acted on behalf of Mrs L and in June 2016, the hospital trust admitted that the damage to Mrs L’s bladder during the original hysterectomy fell below acceptable standards of care, and that the surgeon in question had “failed to prevent or otherwise protect the claimant’s internal structures”.
Following a long period of negotiations, in May 2017 Mrs L was finally received £40,000 in compensation for the negligence and we hope this will be help her in looking forward to the future.
Mrs L is now due to see a different consultant to discuss the removal of her left kidney, which has shrunk to just 5cm long – an ordinary human kidney measures roughly 13cm. Its lack of functionality is also putting a great deal of strain on her remaining kidney, affecting her health even further, as well as causing almost constant pain.
Speaking about her ordeal, Mrs L said: “I feel like I am just existing at the moment, rather than living. I am never without pain. I still have horrible memories of the awful procedures I had to go through – there are times when I have bad dreams in which someone is ripping out my insides. When the pain is really severe, I do wonder why all this has happened to me.
“This whole ordeal has had a devastating effect on my day to day life. I still struggle to work, and always have to rest on my days off. I’ve also put on weight from all the stress. I’ve never been overly confident anyway, but this has just made that even worse, and I don’t even feel like myself anymore. I still get terribly emotional about it all. Luckily, through all of this my husband has been incredible – he’s been my rock. He’s been very supportive and I could not have managed without his help.
“Fletchers has supported me wonderfully throughout this whole ordeal too. They explained everything thoroughly and were by my side every step of the way. The compensation they’ve secured for me will be a huge help financially – especially in paying for me to get to hospital appointments, as well as any future care I’m likely to need.”
Mrs L has been through a terrible ordeal which has had a huge impact on her life over the past few years. She has experience a lot of difficulties coming to terms with what has happened but her friends and family, especially her husband, have railed around her and she has been an extraordinarily brave woman.
We hope the compensation Mrs L has received will help her start to look forward to the future and getting back to her old self.