By Olivia Jemma. Last Updated 28th September 2021. Welcome to our guide on surgical negligence claims. Many different types of surgery entail the risk of medical complications as well as a period of painful recovery, even relatively minor and commonly performed surgeries. However, when you are undergoing an operation, you are entitled to know that you are in safe hands and to know that the doctors performing the surgery are well qualified, well prepared and are not going to make any mistakes.
Surgical mistakes leading to harm to the patient are rare, especially the most common and dangerous kind. However, if you have been the victim of surgical negligence, then one case is too many. You can receive compensation for the impact of surgical negligence you have suffered from. To try to claim this compensation, you are best advised to seek out legal advice and to work with a personal injury solicitor. These are the services that we provide; through us, you can find a solicitor who specialises in making surgical negligence claims and who can provide their services without burdening you with heavy legal fees.
This guide should help you find out what you need to know about making surgical negligence claims using the services of our panel of medical negligence solicitors. Note that this guide is just for medical negligence claims for surgical negligence, but our website also has a host of other pages for different types of medical negligence, such as care home negligence, dental negligence and deaths due to medical negligence.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Surgical Negligence Claims
- What Is Surgical Negligence?
- Surgical Negligence Statistics
- Potential Causes Of Surgical Negligence
- How Surgical Negligence Could Happen
- Types Of Surgical Negligence
- Negligent Cancer Surgery
- Negligent Keyhole Surgery
- Negligent General Surgery
- Surgical Negligence Claims Against The NHS
- A Surgeon Did Not Get My Consent Before An Operation, Could I Claim Compensation
- A Surgeon Left An Object Inside Me, Could I Claim Compensation?
- I Was Not Properly Anesthetized, Could I Claim Compensation?
- Surgical Negligence Injury Claims Calculator
- Special Damages Which May Be Awarded To Claimants
- No Win No Fee Surgical Negligence Claims
- How We Could Help The Victims Of Surgical Negligence
- Start Your Surgical Negligence Claim
- Essential Resources
Welcome to our surgical negligence claims guide. There are few forms of surgery that don’t entail some degree of risk; however, in the majority of cases, this risk should only be very slight. In the rare event that an operation goes wrong, and it is the result of the clinical negligence of the doctors performing the surgery, the patient who has been harmed can claim compensation.
Surgical negligence can have a serious impact on the patients’ health, especially when they are already dealing with another illness. The impact of surgical negligence can be life-threatening and life-changing. This guide will go through some of the common causes and effects of surgical negligence, then explain how and when you can claim compensation for it. The information on how you can claim compensation will include information on claiming from the NHS and information about how you can save yourself money by making a no win no fee claim.
At the end of this guide to surgical error claims, we will provide you with the contact details for reaching our team of advisors, who can answer any further questions you might have or offer you guidance on what to do next if you decide that you do wish to start making a claim.
Before we begin our surgical negligence claims guide, let’s look at what this type of negligence is. Going through surgery can be a physically and mentally trying experience at the best of times, even if the surgery is successful. There can be a long period of recovery in which you may have to deal with pain and soreness and not be able to work or do other normal activities. Surgical negligence are instances in which the surgery goes wrong due to the procedure not being followed, mistakes being made or the quality of treatment you received is below the standards expected of all medical practitioners.
The duty of care which all doctors and nurses have for you before, during and after your surgery means that surgical negligence, even when done by accident rather than on purpose, is never acceptable.
Surgical negligence can cause harm in a number of different ways. It can leave you with injuries to body parts, potentially causing long term or permanent disabilities and health problems, it can cause illnesses through infections, it can cause the recovery from your surgery to be more prolonged and painful than it should be and can require you to undergo further surgeries to rectify the issue. Hence why such victims could consider filing surgical error claims.
In this section of our surgical negligence claims guide, let’s look at some recent statistics. Unfortunately, the number of surgical negligence cases are gradually on the rise in the UK. There are around 4.6 million admissions to British hospitals every year for surgeries; of these, around 300 results in “never events”.
Never events are the most severe cases of medical negligence, causing the most serious effects and cannot happen without the most extreme forms of medical malpractice. Examples of never events can include the wrong procedure being carried out, such as the amputation of a healthy limb or the removal of a healthy organ or leaving instruments inside the patient’s body as they are being closed up. 300 is a small number compared to the number of surgeries that are carried out every year, but it is an alarming number when considering the seriousness of the negligence they entail.
Clinical negligence claims against the NHS
Although there were 300 severe surgical negligence claim cases, the complete number of cases was far larger. According to an NHS report, there were a total of 11,682 fresh clinical claims and reported incidents recorded during 2019/20. In addition, 15,550 surgery claims reached a resolution during the same time period. Of those, 71.5% were settled out of court, while 27.9% led to court proceedings and 0.6% ending up at a trial.
More common forms of surgical negligence are less severe, such as sewing up the incision improperly, causing avoidable scarring, or more minor cases of tissue damage. Cases like these are rarely life-threatening or life-changing but can still entitle you to compensation.
To find out more about making surgical error claims, please get in touch with our team.
The most common reason that surgical negligence claims are made is people suffering as a result of simple human error. It takes years of training for a surgeon to become qualified for their job; the same goes for all the other doctors and nurses roles. But surgeons are only human, and they are fallible. Some of the ways their mistakes can lead to surgical negligence can include:
- Tiredness: Without rest, people become more prone to losing focus and making errors. Surgeons who are operating after a long shift can suffer this. This can be more of a risk in procedures that take a long time.
- Lack of planning: Surgeries require careful planning beforehand; if this hasn’t been done, then it increases the risk of a mistake occurring.
- Lack of communication: It is crucial that the team performing the operation communicate properly and clearly with each other. If communication breaks down during the surgery, then they can make mistakes.
- Lack of expertise: Surgeons attempting to perform operations which they are not qualified for can make mistakes.
- Carelessness: Simple carelessness can cause mistakes. Surgeons can make critical errors while performing routine operations which they have carried out a number of times before out of simple complacency. Any of these examples could lead to surgical error claims.
There are many reasons why people may want to make surgical negligence claims. With all of the different types of complicated surgical operations, there is a multitude of unique ways that surgical negligence can occur. We couldn’t list all of the different ways that negligence in a surgical procedure can be caused, but here are just a few of the more common reasons.
- Misdiagnosis: If there is a misdiagnosis of the health issue the patient has in the first place, then the surgery could have been arranged when it was inappropriate. Surgery that is unnecessary and inappropriate can cause the patient further health problems on top of the issue that already existed.
- Incorrect application of anaesthesia: Anaesthesia is used to render the patient unconscious and unaware during surgery. There is no single dosage of anaesthetic that gets used in surgery; each patient will require a different amount to put them to sleep depending on their weight or age, and so on. The wrong amount can fail to keep the patient asleep for the duration of the surgery or cause them to remain unconscious for longer than they should be. Being given the wrong dose of anaesthetic can be grounds for a surgical negligence compensation claim in and of itself.
- Surgical complications: Some complications are an unavoidable risk. You should be made aware of any potential complication risks before being asked for your consent to undergo surgery. If you suffer a complication that you weren’t warned about before agreeing to have the surgery, then you could have grounds to make surgical error claims, especially if the surgery wasn’t the only option for dealing with your health problem.
- Negligent aftercare: After surgery has been performed, the patient will, in many cases, require a period of recuperation and monitoring in the hospital. If the nursing care that the patient receives at this time is negligent, then the patient can suffer harm to the health.
Cosmetic Surgery Errors
It is becoming more common for people to undergo cosmetic surgery procedures. This means that plastic surgery negligence cases are becoming steadily more common. Although negligence in plastic surgery is less likely to be life-threatening than other kinds of surgery, its effects can still be a serious matter. For example, plastic surgery negligence claims can be made for facial disfigurement caused by negligence in a cosmetic surgery procedure.
For more free legal advice on what you can factor into a surgical negligence claim, please get in touch today.
Due to the vast array of different surgical procedures that can be performed and the number of different ways in which negligence can cause them to go wrong, there are far too many examples of the different kinds of injuries that can result to list all of them here. However, to help give you an idea, here are just some of those which could result in a surgical negligence claim:
- Causing damage to nerves and arteries
- Causing damage to organs by accidentally slicing them
- Failing to notice damage to organs
- Causing hernias
- Causing an infection by not properly ensuring proper hygiene.
In the period of recuperation after surgery, the patients’ health needs to be monitored closely by doctors and nurses. Failing to spot the signs of ill-health caused by surgical negligence is also an error, for example failing to spot the signs of organ failure caused by damage in the surgery or failing to spot signs of infection.
Another reason people may make surgical negligence claims is negligent cancer surgery. Sometimes surgery is required to address a case of cancer by removing the tumour. As with all types of surgery, there is a risk of complications, failure to treat the problem and the threat of medical negligence.
If medical negligence occurs during an operation to remove a cancerous tumour, it can result in avoidable damage to the body part from which the tumour was taken; alternatively, the procedure could fail to remove the entire tumour, resulting in malignant tissue being left in the body. In certain forms of tumour removal operations, the patient can be left with disfigurements by surgical negligence; for example, if breast cancer tissue is removed improperly, the patient can be left with cosmetic disfigurements.
If you’ve been impacted by erroneous cancer surgery and want more advice on making a surgical negligence claim, please get in touch with our team today. We can answer any questions you may have about surgical error claims.
Keyhole surgery (Laparoscopy), also known as Minimally Invasive Surgery, is a form of surgery in which the surgeons reach the body part they are operating on by making a small incision and operating the surgical instruments through the aid of a very small camera.
Injuries caused by negligence in Laparoscopic surgery can include damage to the bladder, the gall bladder, damage to nerves and damage to blood vessels. Infections can also occur as a result of a negligently performed keyhole surgery.
If you’ve been harmed by keyhole surgery and want to learn more about making surgical error claims, get in touch with us today. To learn more about surgical negligence claims, please read on.
General surgery deals with any of the bodies soft tissues, meaning the internal organs in the abdomen, skin and muscle. Soft tissue injuries such as cutting and damaging organs, nerves, veins and arteries can ensure surgical negligence in general surgery. Hernias can also result in a number of different reasons from soft tissue surgery, such as cutting the inguinal or genitofemoral nerves.
If you’ve come to harm following negligent general surgery you may be entitled to make a surgical negligence claim. Speak to us today for more free advice on your situation.
Let’s now discuss surgical error claims against the NHS. Of course, it is perfectly possible to make surgery negligence claims against a private health firm that has treated you negligently, but most people in the UK receive their healthcare from the National Health Service. This section is information in relation to making claims for surgical negligence, which occurred under the NHS.
The NHS has special bodies and procedures in place for dealing with cases of medical negligence, surgical negligence included. You have the right to make an official complaint to the NHS if surgery has gone wrong; the NHS will perform an investigation into the incident to determine what went wrong and who is at fault. You also have the right to claim surgical negligence compensation from the NHS. The NHS has a dedicated department called NHS resolution for addressing medical negligence claims and awarding compensation. In most cases, you can begin your claim while the investigation is still ongoing.
However, in some special circumstances, you may be told you have to wait until the investigation is concluded.
Another reason people make surgical negligence claims is the lack of medical consent. Operating on a patient requires their express, written, informed consent in all circumstances except for cases in which a patient taken to A&E requires lifesaving surgery and unresponsive patients, in which case the patients family can give their consent. Any surgical procedure performed without your consent except for the situations already mentioned can be grounds for a compensation claim.
Surgeons must also not perform any procedure beyond that which you have granted your consent for unless an emergency arises during the procedure. Obtaining your informed consent requires informing you of any potential complications or other risks associated with the surgery you are being asked to undergo. If such complications arise without you having been warned of them beforehand, then you could be entitled to compensation.
Unless the surgery is intended to place an object inside your body (i.e. installing a pacemaker), then there is no excuse for a surgeon to leave any objects inside your body. Even fairly small objects such as swabs and sponges can lead to infections and complications with the surgical wounds healing. Leaving objects behind in a patient’s body constitutes a blatant act of surgical malpractice and can be grounds for making a surgical negligence compensation claim.
If you’ve been harmed by a surgical error like this and want to learn more about negligence claims, call us today or read on for more information about surgical error claims/surgical negligence claims.
You could claim compensation if you did not receive the proper amount of anaesthetic during your surgical procedure. The incorrect application of anaesthetic can have a number of different serious outcomes. One is the frightening prospect of the patient regaining awareness during the procedure and being conscious of the sensation of being operated on.
This is a painful and deeply traumatic experience for any patient who faces it. Anaesthetic is also important for regulating the patients’ blood pressure during the surgical procedure; if it is not properly controlled by the anaesthetic, the increased blood pressure can lead to strokes or other forms of brain damage.
The compensation which you and your solicitor claim for is calculated based on the severity of the injury, the general rule applies that the more significant the injury is, the higher the compensation you are entitled to. Factored into this is the degree of physical pain and suffering caused by the injury, the amount of time it takes you to fully recover, whether or not you are left with any permanent disabilities or chronic pain, the psychological effects of the injury or the accident which caused it (such as PTSD) and whether or not you are left with disfigurements by the injury.
At this stage, it won’t be possible to calculate how much compensation your injury is worth. To do that, you would have to have discussed your circumstances in detail with a solicitor, be examined by a doctor and to have compiled a record of all financial expenses related to your injury; however, you can read through the table below to see the guidelines for compensation is valued for certain different types of injuries, which you may find useful for your surgical error claims.
|Laparotomy scar||If a laparotomy (key hole surgery) has been performed by found no evidence of injury or issue requiring surgery. Compensation is awarded for the scar.||£7,380-£8,110|
|Hernia (a) severe||Lasting pain and limitation of physical activity after repair.||£12,700-£22,680|
|Hernia (b) moderate||Hernia with risk of reccurance after repair.||£5,980-£8,550|
|Hernia (c) minor||Hernia with no lasting effects after repair.||£2,900-£6,790|
|Digestive system (i)||Severe damage causing lasting pain and discomfort.||£36,700-£58,100|
|Digestive system (iii)||Penetration stab wounds or laceration.||£5,630-£11,820|
|Bladder injury (b)||Complete loss of function and control||£120,040-£132,040|
|Bladder injury (c)||Severe impairment of function and control with lasting pain.||£54,600-£75,010|
|Bladder injury (d)||Near full recovery with some lasting impairment of function.||£19,980-£29,380|
To get a more precise estimate of the value of your surgical negligence claim, please get in touch today.
The compensation you get for the injury and its direct effects on your health is known as general compensation; further compensation can also be awarded for the financial effects that having the injury has had on you. Make sure that when you have suffered an injury that you keep a note and receipts of any expenses you have to take on as a result of the injury that you wouldn’t have had to deal with if the injury hadn’t occurred. Things like:
- Private medical treatment and care not offered by the NHS
- Home adaption if you have become disabled
- Assistive equipment, i.e. crutches, mobility scooters and Zimmer frames.
- Physiotherapy relating to your recovery from your injuries
- Medications that you require.
- Travel costs to and from any medical treatment, therapy or counselling sessions relating to your injury.
Loss of Earnings
As well as the money you have had to pay in relation to dealing with your injury you can also be compensated for income that you have lost out on because of the injury. This means wages you have missed out on because you have had to stop working either temporarily or permanently because of the injury or money you have lost due to having to leave your job and take a lower-paid position elsewhere due to your injury.
To discover what else you can include within surgical error claims, speak to our friendly adviser on the number at the top of this page.
No win no fee agreements are a simple and effective way to make your compensation claim while avoiding the potentially prohibitive costs of hiring a solicitor. The simple way of explaining a no win no fee claim is to say that it allows you to pay your fee to the solicitor using the compensation you receive if your claim works out in your favour.
You won’t lose out on a large amount of the compensation by doing this as there is an upper limit to which your solicitor can be entitled, however, this is capped at a low level. What this also means is that you won’t have to pay the costs for a claim which doesn’t end in your favour. If you have any concerns or if you would like further details, you can ask for free advice on the contact information at the bottom of this page.
Working with us and our solicitors to make your surgical negligence claims offers a range of advantages. For starters, you don’t have to worry nearly as much about the financial risks of making a claim by claiming under a no win no fee agreement. We also offer our teams advisory services free of charge without expecting you to agree to make your claim through us beforehand. You can rest assured that if you work with our solicitors, you will be in safe and well-qualified hands. Our solicitors have up to thirty years of experience working in law. So, they can definitely advise when it comes to the likes of surgical error claims.
You’ve nearly reached the end of our guide to surgical negligence claims. You may want to have a chat with a legal expert to get some advice before making a compensation claim.
If so, you can speak to our experts, who will talk to you free of charge. The number to call is 0800 073 8801, you can ring at any time, and our team will be available to talk to you; alternatively, if you would rather receive a call, you can arrange one on our website. You can also email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to go straight onto arranging a no win no fee claim, you can use the same contact information.
Here are some helpful further resources relating to surgical negligence claims.
- Cancer Misdiagnosis Compensation Claims
- Can I Claim For GP or Doctor Negligence?
- How To Make Complaints About An NHS Service
- How To Raise A Concern About A Doctor
- Standards and Guidance – Royal College of Surgeons
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding surgical negligence claims.
How can you define a surgical error?
Simply put, this is a preventable mistake made by the doctor during surgery. Bear in mind that there is always a risk with surgery, and some surgeries may only have a small chance of bringing a patient back to full health. Hence why the patient signs a declaration form beforehand informing them of any risks. But if a surgical error proves to have been easily avoidable, the patient could still file a claim.
What is the most common surgical error claim scenario?
The most frequent situation is when there is an error with an anaesthetic. An anaesthesia error is not only very serious, but it even carries the risk of being deadly towards the victim. It tends to be the result of an oversight or simple lack of attention. But if the doctor administers an excessive amount of anaesthesia, it could reduce the patient’s oxygen levels, potentially causing brain damage and, in severe cases, death.
How should I react if a surgeon does make a mistake?
It’s imperative to gather evidence as quickly as possible while the situation is still fresh. And we suggest contacting a medical negligence lawyer at the earliest possible stage in order to build your case. This is partly because you may still be experiencing the physical and mental consequences stemming from the surgical error, and you only get a narrow window in which to claim, so time is of the essence.
Could I make a claim for a surgical error?
Assuming that the negligence of the medical professionals was the primary contributory factor in you suffering any damage from a surgical error, and you have evidence to prove this conclusively, then yes you could make a viable surgical negligence claim.
What should you do if a surgeon makes a mistake?
It’s imperative to get legal advice as soon as possible, and it’s just as important not to directly contact the hospital or the doctor at this stage.
What happens if an operation goes wrong?
The potential complications could include breathing problems due to the anaesthesia wearing off or even being too strong for the surgery.
How many cosmetic surgeries go wrong?
On average, around 1% of cosmetic surgeries end up having complications, many of which could result in claims.
Can a facelift go wrong?
This tends to be an infrequent development, but it could happen, and there is always a potential risk for this.
Thank you for reading our guide on surgical error claims. We hope you have learned a lot about surgical negligence claims by reading this guide.