In Oct 2014 our client, Katie, had a gastric band fitted to assist with her weight loss. Katie felt unhappy and was concerned about her weight impacting on her fertility. The band is designed to be expanded or narrowed to assist with weight loss. This is performed by inserting a needle into a port that is located under the skin on the abdominal wall. The band is then either filled or aspirated with fluid to change the amount of restriction. She had tried many different diets with little long-term success and decided that saving up for a gastric band was her best option. As her mother had a similar band placed several years earlier, Katie was confident it was the right decision for her.
After the band was successfully fitted, Katie needed to attend the medical centre every four weeks to have the band filled. The band fits around the stomach, and the port is placed on the stomach muscles, so the band needs to be filled slowly by adding saline fluid – which restricts the volume of food the patient eats. The band can also be deflated by removing fluid if too much has been added.
A few months after her initial surgery, Katie attended the hospital as she felt her band had been overly tightened and she was unable to keep any food or water down. She was seen in A&E by a Registrar who attempted to aspirate fluid from her band. The number of attempts he made at aspiration is unknown, however it was established that one or more of these attempts caused a puncture to the hard plastic surrounding the port, which he struggled to find. Katie thought the position he asked her to lie in was strange and made finding the port more difficult, but presumed each doctor had their own method and did not comment. No local anaesthetic was applied to the area so Katie could feel each time he pierced the skin. At this point, Katie’s stomach was bleeding. Unnoticed to the Registrar or Katie, the band slowly started leaking saline fluid into her abdomen. As a result, Katie required the entire band to be removed and replaced.
We believed that the Registrar’s technique fell below a reasonable standard. After long negotiations due to disputes over how many aspiration attempts were made, Pryers was able to settle the case for £20,000. Katie was very pleased with the result.