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Case study: failure to investigate incontinence following hysterectomy
JMW secured £25,000 in compensation for a woman who endured two years of urinary incontinence after doctors failed to properly investigate why it was happening following her hysterectomy.
Connie, 50, had suffered with uterine fibroids for a number of years and agreed to have a hysterectomy as the pain and discomfort were getting worse. This was carried out without incident, but in the immediate postoperative period she experienced considerable abdominal pain and distension.
She was discharged home after a few days but her problems continued, and nine days after the operation she started to experience symptoms of stress incontinence. Connie consulted her GP, who eventually referred her back to the hospital.
Failure to diagnose the cause by two specialists
By the time Connie saw her consultant again three months post-op, she was leaking urine to the extent that she had to wear a pad at all times. However, the surgeon clearly did not think the incontinence had any connection with the surgery and referred Connie to the physiotherapist for pelvic floor exercises. She also started her on Vesicare, a drug to reduce the symptoms of an overactive bladder.
As the symptoms did not improve, Connie asked for a second opinion. She then underwent an ultrasound scan, which showed nothing abnormal, and she was prescribed a different drug to try and improve the incontinence. When the symptoms continued unabated, Connie underwent a cystoscopy - a camera inserted into the bladder - but this too failed to find anything wrong.
A third specialist discovers negligence
Gradually the incontinence got worse, and in desperation Connie asked to be referred to a third specialist, 17 months after the initial operation. This surgeon suspected that Connie may have suffered a vesicovaginal fistula - an abnormal connection between the bladder and the vagina - and sent her for special urodynamic investigation.
It was still uncertain that the problem was a fistula, so Connie was referred to yet another urological expert, who undertook an MRI scan. At long last, after almost two years and four consultant urologists, a definite diagnosis of a vesicovaginal fistula was made and Connie underwent repair surgery, which completely resolved her urinary problems.
Repeated care failures
The incontinence was clearly due to a fistula right from the start, and although the fistula was small and hard to identify, the surgeon who performed the hysterectomy was negligent in not further investigating Connie’s symptoms, as incontinence developing soon after a hysterectomy is well known to be associated with vesicovaginal fistulas.
Although missing this diagnosis is not necessarily negligent in itself, the repeated failures to investigate and treat the problem formed the basis of Connie’s successful compensation claim.
Connie sought help from the medical negligence experts at JMW who investigated her case and identified the failures in care. Although nothing could make up the two years of suffering Connie endured, Katie Nolan - the specialist solicitor who handled her case - was successful in securing £25,000 in compensation for her.
If you have been the victim of medical negligence, contact the team at JMW to find out whether you may have a case for compensation. Get in touch on 0800 054 6512, or fill in our online contact form to request a call back.