Mrs E had been experiencing infrequent episodes of pain over a period of two years when she agreed to surgery to treat gallstones, which were believed to be the source of the problem.

Following surgery, Mrs E was advised that there had been complications in theatre and they had to convert to an open procedure. The surgeon apologised and explained that he had cut the wrong “tube” during the surgery and in hindsight he should have checked but he didn’t. He said she would receive a letter to explain what had happened, following which they could arrange a meeting to answer any questions.

A drain had been inserted to remove the bile and she was discharged home six days later with the drain in situ. She relied on her husband for care and assistance and was unable to care for her children. Mrs E suffered from ongoing pain, erratic bowel movements and psychological symptoms following the surgery.

A week after being discharged she returned to have the drain removed. Mrs E was unhappy with the care she had received and the impact it was having on her life.

Medical Negligence Claim

Ison Harrison were instructed to investigate a medical negligence claim for personal injury damages and losses arising from the transection of the common bile duct during surgery. Steps were taken to obtain medical records and a Consultant General Surgeon was instructed to prepare a report addressing breach of duty and causation. The Defendant was notified of the proposed claim.

The expert report concluded that transecting the common bile duct represented a breach of duty and but for the negligence, Mrs E would have undergone a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and made a full recovery in four weeks. The injury resulted in open surgery to perform a hepatico-jejunostomy, which resulted in ongoing erratic bowel movements; future risks of stricture, cirrhosis, duodenal ulcer, adhesions and hernia, prolonged Hospital admission, larger scar, fatigue and lack of stamina and psychological trauma.

A Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine and a Consultant Psychiatrist were instructed to assess Mrs E and prepare reports dealing with causation, condition and prognosis.

A letter of claim was served on the Defendant alleging that they had breached their duty of care by having mistaken the common bile duct for the cystic duct resulting in a biliary injury with transactional and partial loss of the common hepatic duct.

In their letter of response the Defendant admitted breach of duty in having transected the common bile duct. They also admitted that consequent to the injury to the common bile duct a repair by hepatico-jejunostomy was required with the need to convert to an open procedure from a laparoscopic which resulted in an  extended hospital stay and prolonged recovery period as well as the risks associated with hernias and adhesions caused by the larger scar. The risks associated with stricture, cirrhosis and duodenal ulcer were denied. No admissions were made as to fatigue, lack of stamina and psychological trauma.

The Defendant apologised for the standard of care afforded to Mrs E. An interim payment on account of damages was requested and agreed by the Defendant and £10,000 was paid to Mrs E to alleviate the financial hardship of being unable to work.

Steps were taken to investigate quantum in an attempt to reach a settlement. The case was successfully concluded at a joint settlement meeting where Mrs E accepted £155,000.00 in full and final settlement of her claim.

Comment from Iain Oliver

“This was a particularly pleasing case to be able to conclude successfully because such a small error on the surgeon’s part had had such a large impact on Mrs E and her family’s lives. Whilst money in the form of damages in no way really compensates for the ongoing effects, at least Mrs E can be sure now that she is on a secure financial footing whilst she seeks to return as far as possible to her life as it was before her injury.”

What to do if you have concerns

If you have concerns about medical care that you or a loved one have received, please contact a member of the Clinical Negligence Team on 0113 284 5000 or alternatively email for a free, no obligation conversation to see if we can help you.