Our client was obese and suffered with diabetes and infertility problems when it was agreed that a gastric bypass may help ease these conditions, the procedure led to her avoidable death however.
Following her operation, she was provided with dietary advice. Just two and a half months later, she was seen by a specialist suffering with vomiting and showing signs of micronutrient deficiency and was given vitamin supplements.
Five months following her gastric bypass, her diet was considered to be fine but she was having difficulty with consuming bread and meat. She was subsequently discharged after failing to attend her follow up appointments.
More than a year after her operation, she went to another hospital in relation to infertility issues and was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome however, she overcame these issues and became a mother within two years.
Two months after this, she went to A&E complaining of abdominal pain and she was referred to a surgeon having had a history of abdominal pain during her pregnancy. An ultrasound was carried out and it was diagnosed that she had gallstones.
A further month passed and she was seen by medical staff who disagreed with the gallstones diagnosis and it was planned that she would be reassessed four months later. Our investigations found no evidence that the follow up appointment took place.
She later visited her GP as her periods had stopped. Blood tests were carried out to find out the cause and she was referred to a gynaecologist. The results revealed that she was probably suffering from primary ovarian failure.
A further three months passed and she returned to her GP complaining of having upper respiratory tract infection, she was experiencing hair loss, dizziness, a fast heart rate, daily vomiting and weight loss over a two week period. She was referred to a dermatologist.
Blood tests were carried out with the results showing an abnormal thyroid function and she was given medication. Her symptoms failed to improve however, and she was admitted back into hospital.
Following her gastric bypass, she had lost six stones in just nine months – far in excess of what would be a normal level of weight loss following such a procedure. Further tests were carried out in order to reveal the cause of her symptoms and she was referred to a gastroenterologist but the appointment was never received.
Nine months after her initial ultrasound scan had revealed gallstones, a further ultrasound was carried out with the results not received until 6 weeks later showing the presence of gallstones.
Her vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss continued and at this point, she had lost a significant 16 stones in weight over an 18 month period. More scans were carried out showing gallstones and she underwent a procedure to investigate her gullet, stomach and part of her bowel.
She failed to wake up from the procedure and the hospital had to perform its recovery procedure and shortly after she was taken to the Intensive Care Unit but had to be transferred to a different hospital after a fortnight due to bed shortages.
She died just 11 days after her transfer, nearly four years following her gastric bypass. The coroner recorded that she had the beginnings of Adult Respiratory Distress (ADR) and gallstones with the cause of death reported as severe bilateral bronchopneumonia and Acute Respiratory Failure.
We represented her husband in bringing a claim against the NHS Trust responsible for her medical appointments following her gastric bypass and found that it had failed to both properly diagnose and adequately treat the severity of her malnutrition and unusually excessive weight loss.
We argued that her symptoms of vomiting, malnutrition and abdominal pain were attributed to her gastric bypass and that had she been referred for the appropriate CT scan following her initial ultra sound scan, the test may have revealed the presence of a hernia or a problem with her gastric band.
She suffered significant delays in having an urgent abdominal scan which took 11 weeks in total instead of the recommended maximum of four weeks. We argued that had the problems with her gastric band been recognised and properly treated, she would likely have avoided developing bronchopneumonia and ARDS and would have survived.
We won the claim and the Trust agreed to settle with a six figure sum.
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