In this case, our client, Chris, suffered a severe misdiagnosis of his injuries. Pryers was able to help him seek justice after a stab wound was wrongly treated as superficial when his A&E doctor failed to observe that his small bowel had been punctured, leading to further pain and complications.
Chris was stabbed at a cashpoint after Christmas 2012 and was taken to A&E at his local hospital. The A&E doctor concluded that the abdominal wound was superficial, however this was incorrect, no imaging was carried out and Chris was not referred to a surgeon. His wound was stitched up, and he was discharged. However, in the early hours of the next morning Chris returned to the hospital because he had been vomiting and suffering from severe pain.
A surgeon requested a CT scan, and Chris was found to have a large fluid collection in his abdomen. Initially he was scheduled to undergo a small keyhole surgery, but this had to be converted to a laparotomy, a more invasive form of surgery that can lead to more complications and a longer recovery period.
Surgeons found that the small bowel had been punctured 3 times and bowel contents and blood had filled the peritoneal cavity; a space between the membrane that surrounds the abdominal wall and the internal organs. The surgeons removed 15cm of bowel and the abdominal cavity was washed out. Unfortunately, Chris later developed an incisional hernia, which can occur as a result of surgery, and underwent a surgical mesh repair and a washout. The wound then became infected and Chris required IV antibiotics. He had a distended abdomen, which occurs when substances, such as air or fluid, accumulate in the abdomen and cause it to expand and a CT scan revealed a leak from a fistula, an abnormal connection between two hollow spaces in the body that can occur as a result of surgery. As a result, Chris underwent another major surgery for removal of the mesh and application of a wound drainage bag. Chris was not discharged until seven months after his attack, following a period of Total parenteral nutrition (TPN), a method of feeding that bypasses the gastrointestinal tract.
Our experts concluded that if not for the negligent A&E care, Chris would not have required the later surgery. They stated that had imaging been performed and a surgical referral been made when Chris was first presented to A&E, a keyhole repair would have been performed several hours earlier at which time there would not have been the significant intra-abdominal contamination. The contamination, on the balance of probabilities, caused problems with the wound, the development of the incisional hernia and subsequent complications.
The hospital admitted a breach of duty, acknowledging that small lacerations should be assumed to be deep until proven otherwise. Chris was able to accept an offer of £45,000 to settle the claim.