Complex medical negligence claim involving a foreign object found in a wound successfully settles

PUBLISHED 12 Sep 2014

We recently settled a complex medical negligence claim involving a foreign object found in a wound after surgery.

Our client was a pensioner suffering from bladder cancer. On 1 May 2012 our client underwent an operation to remove his bladder and build him an ileal conduit as part of the treatment and management of his bladder cancer. Our client spend five weeks in hospital where his wound was irrigated with saline, packed with gauze and dressed daily. After his discharge, our client was attended on by community nurses who continued his wound management.

For eleven months after the operation our client’s wound did not heal. During this period cultures of the discharge of our client’s wound were taken which indicated a mixed bacterial growth and our client was prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotics on fifteen occasions.

In October and November 2012, our client underwent radiation therapy as part of his cancer management. Our client’s wound continued to be irrigated with saline, packed with gauze and dressed daily.

On 1 April 2013 our client’s wound was explored surgically and our client’s surgeon found a piece of gauze lodged in his wound sinus. After a four week stay in hospital our client was transferred to a hospital closer to his home where a vacuum pump dressing was fitted to his wound.

On 15 August 2013 our client was admitted to hospital. During his stay our client was informed that he had developed a ‘super bug’ infection and was required to take a particular type of antibiotic from the rest of his life to keep the infection controlled.

During this whole time our client’s health and quality of life was severely hampered by this infection. He approached Gerard Malouf and Partners and Aristea Friedrich, medical negligence solicitor, took carriage of this matter.

The matter was complicated by other health problems that our client was facing, and the necessity to deal with two jurisdictions (namely NSW and ACT law).

To address these issues Ms Friedrich obtained our client’s medical records and conducted extensive legal research and analysis. With our client’s medical records in hand and answers to complex legal questions, Ms Friedrich obtained very detailed instructions from our client and drew a detailed chronology of events.

Ms Friedrich then briefed a specialist Barrister, and obtained expert liability and damage reports in order to fully understand our client’s injuries and to establish negligence on the part of the hospital.

Unfortunately, during the course of the matter our client’s cancer returned and Ms Friedrich was required to expedite the matter to ensure that the matter was finalised should anything happen to our client which would substantially alter the nature of our client’s claim. Working with the Medial Negligence team at Gerard Malouf and Partners and a specialist Barrister, Ms Friedrich was able to progress this matter to the point where negotiation between the parties became possible. This was essential to ensure costs were kept low in this cross jurisdictional matter and to ensure our client had a timely resolution.

The matter was settled by negotiation between the parties. This was an outstanding result that our client was very pleased with. We hope that this settlement reminds hospitals that negligent acts significantly change the lives of patients and encourages them to ensure incidents like this do not occur.

We are highly specialised and focussed medical negligence claim lawyers with our firm being small enough to care intimately for our clients, but large enough to have the solid, financial, medical and expert resources our clients need to match the big insurers we fight every day.

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