I suffered nerve damage during an operation, is it possible to claim compensation for a surgical complication? The surgeon told me that this type of complication can occur with a hysterectomy. Does this mean I cannot make a claim?
Whenever invasive surgery is performed, there is an inherent risk that a patient will suffer a complication during the procedure, and it is not always possible for compensation for a surgical complication to be claimed. A claim for surgical complications can only be made if an injury resulted from a failure in a duty of care and the negligence of the surgeon or theatre nurses.
It is often not possible for a surgeon to take any action to prevent certain complications from occurring, and medical problems may be suffered simply from a patient undergoing invasive surgery. If a health problem develops which was unforeseeable, and it would not have been reasonable to prevent it from occurring, it is not possible to claim for surgical complications.
However, while there is a risk of nerve damage during a surgical procedure such as a hysterectomy, this type of injury is frequently caused by a lack of skill of the surgeon or a mistake made during a surgical procedure as a result of carelessness or recklessness. The surgeon may have given you an explanation, but it is important that an investigation is conducted to establish whether this was the case or if the surgeon has been negligent and made a surgery error, and for that you will need to receive assistance from a personal injury solicitor.
There are a number of questions which must be answered before it is possible to determine if the surgeon was negligent, for instance: could nerve damage during a surgical procedure have been avoided had a reasonable amount of care been employed? Was the surgery planned properly, and were there sufficient nurses available to assist with the operation? Would a competent and skilled surgeon been able to avoid causing damage to the nerves under the circumstances?
It is not possible for a solicitor to answer these questions without assistance from an expert surgeon. Answers to these questions will be obtained to establish whether ‘on the balance of probabilities’ there was a failure in a duty of care and negligence, and consequently, if a surgical complication injury claim can be made under the circumstances.
A surgeon or expert doctor will also assist a solicitor with the calculation of compensation for medical complication from surgery, after assessing the extent of nerve damage. If the nerves have become inflamed or only sustained minor damage, no permanent health problems may be suffered. If permanent nerve damage has been caused – such as occurs when a nerve is severed – this will increase the amount of compensation for a surgical complication that can be claimed.
When you have been informed about the amount of compensation you can claim, you can decide whether you want to proceed with the claim.