Michelle Meakin secures £456,000 for client left with permanent stoma as a result of medical negligence

On 5 January 2018, Mrs C (age 54 at the time) began suffering with excruciating lower left abdominal pain and attended her GP. She was given antibiotics for suspected diverticulitis. Several appointments followed where she was prescribed buscopan, mefanemic acid, co-codamol and oromorph.

On 31 January 2018, she presented to her GP once again and this time was referred to hospital for surgical assessment. The Claimant was under the impression she was to have a CT scan. 

The Claimant did not have a CT scan upon arrival at hospital and was instead seen by a member of the surgical team. Three weeks of lower left abdominal pain with bloating was noted. It was noted that her GP had arranged a barium enema which was due to take place on 6 February 2018 so she was told to attend that appointment as planned and to take painkillers and antibiotics in the meantime. She was to re-attend the surgical assessment unit on 8 February 2018.

The barium enema was performed on 6 February 2018. The barium did not pass beyond the region of the splenic flexure. At the level of the sigmoid colon there was a marked abnormality with an apple core appearance suggestive of significant mural thickening. This appearance was reported to be worrying for a malignant lesion of the sigmoid colon.

In light of the barium enema result, the Claimant was referred by her GP to the rapid access colon cancer clinic. Her appointment was scheduled for 12 February 2018.

She duly attended the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on 12 February 2018 for an appointment with the surgeon. The surgeon said that he did not practice out of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and therefore would not be able to do anything for her that day. He suggested that she needed a CT scan and a colonoscopy which they were unable to obtain at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital that day.

Due to her excruciating pain, the claimant's husband took her straight to the William Harvey Hospital Surgical Assessment Unit and insisted that she receive treatment. An emergency CT scan was performed and the surgeon advised that she would require emergency surgery. This was performed at 2135 that evening by means of laparotomy. A sub total colectomy, splenectomy and end ileostomy were performed, due to large bowel obstruction. Mrs C was eventually discharged from hospital on 27 February 2018 but endured months of misery as a result of wound complications and vac pump therapy.

The sigmoid colon remained in place so she subsequently had to undergo further surgery in the form of an anterior resection with ileo-rectal anastomosis, left ureterolysis and formation of loop ileostomy at St Mark’s Hospital.

She had hoped to eventually have her ileostomy reversed but further tests revealed she would not be a suitable candidate for reversal so this is now permanent.

Allegations of negligence were pursued against both the Claimant’s GP and the hospital, in relation to their failures to take action sooner. Both defendants admitted negligence, but had slightly differing positions on what damage had been caused by the negligence. 

A Joint Settlement meeting between the parties was arranged. At the last minute prior to this settlement meeting, the defendants served expert evidence in support of an argument that the Claimant had a reduced life expectancy (thereby seeking to reduce the amounts claimed) as a result of the following factors:-

   - History of depression

   - Previous stroke

   - Obesity

We managed to obtain our own supportive expert evidence on life expectancy at very short notice to refute these arguments and as a result, settlement was achieved in the sum of £456,000.

Mrs C stated “with great happiness and final positive outcome, I am now able to move forward with my life and put this behind myself. Thanks to the legal team at Girlings. Brilliant friendly positive team”.