Incorrect polyp removal causes bowel perforation

Brian had two polyps biopsied and partly removed and a biopsy of a further polyp which was done without it being removed. Brian was discharged despite not having a stable blood pressure and still being in pain and discomfort. The biopsies were taken using snare diathermy which was subsequently identified by Brian's medical expert as an incorrect way of removing polyps: this was likely to be the cause of the perforation of Brian's bowel.  

Brian developed such severe pain that his wife called an out of hours GP.  This GP failed to diagnose a possible perforation as a result of the colonoscopy and only prescribed painkillers. This GP was acting under the care of the second defendant which provided the out of hours GP service for Brian’s area.

Brian was then referred by his own GP to another hospital, operated by the third defendant, there he underwent an anterior resection as a result of the perforation of his lower bowel.  After a further laparotomy, he was found to be suffering from a pelvic abscess following a leak from the anastomosis made during the anterior resection. A Hartman's operation was performed. Brian's medical expert identified deficiencies in care of diagnosing the leaking bowel as well as an inadequate repair of the bowel in the low anterior resection. 

Brian’s medical expert maintained that the first defendant had been negligent of an inadequate technique as well as failing to diagnose the likelihood of a perforation occurring during the colonoscopy and for discharging him instead of keeping him in for observation.

He also maintained that the out of hours GP had been negligent in not immediately referring the claimant for a review of his position and considering that as a colonoscopy had taken place that it was likely that the pain was indicative of there being a complication necessitating the claimant's immediate referral to hospital.

The appropriate course of action which should have been taken by the third defendant when immediately diagnosing the perforation would have been to repair the perforation in the bowel without undertaking anterior resection. As the polyps were benign there had been no need for anterior resection.

He therefore claimed that the perforation should not have occurred, but also that it should have been diagnosed early, and adequately repaired. He would therefore have not lost the function of his lower intestine and the consequent use of a stoma and the extensive period of recovery in hospital including the pelvic abscess and infection that followed.

As a result Brian was required to retire two years early from his job and also lost pension entitlement. Accordingly he claimed for the damage to his lower intestine and digestive tract, to include inter alia pain, suffering and loss of amenity and for loss of earnings and pension.

This was a matter in which the defendants strenuously denied liability throughout. Proceedings were issued. With no settlement offers having been forthcoming from the defendants, Brian put forward a part 36 offer in settlement. This the defendants accepted.  However, proceeding had been extensive and it was only 6 weeks before trial that the settlement took place.

Brian was left with a permanent disability and his quality of life in retirement was severely affected.  The Defendants only offered to settle at the last minute having had previous invitations from Brian’s solicitors to admit liability.