Medical negligence solicitors at Coles Miller helped a student who suffered permanent damage to her bladder to claim £815,000 compensation.
Coles Miller Partner Lydia Barnett handled the student’s No Win No Fee compensation claim after her ovarian cyst operation went badly wrong. Read about the case here.
Have you suffered a bladder injury? Did the doctors fail to treat it correctly? Did they cause your bladder problem by failing to treat another condition properly?
Bladder Injury Symptoms
People who have experienced a bladder injury can experience symptoms including:
- bleeding from the urinal tract, blood (or bloody discharge) in the urine
- severe pain in the pelvic region or when urinating
- difficulty urinating, weak urine stream
- loss of body fluids, problems retaining water
- pain in the lower stomach
- severe back pain.
Causes Of Bladder Injuries
Most people are well aware of what caused their bladder injury. Many of these injuries are caused by either:
- blunt trauma – being hit by a large heavy object
- puncture wounds – being stabbed with a sharp object.
Road or workplace accidents are to blame for many bladder injuries. Our personal injury solicitors can help you in cases such as these. Find out more here.
But sometimes you don’t know the cause. You’re suffering from symptoms that can severely impact your quality of life (or even endanger your life) but you don’t know why.
Your GP or hospital doctor may have failed to diagnose and treat a serious condition promptly. You can claim compensation for medical negligence if late diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) caused your bladder problems or made them worse.
In some instances a surgical error may be to blame (such as damage to the bladder during a Caesarean section). Injuries caused by clinicians or their treatments are described as ‘iatrogenic’.
Bladder Problems Caused By Doctors And Surgeons
Procedures involving the pelvis or abdomen can lead to a wide range of complications affecting the bladder, kidneys, urethra and ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder).
Previously the operations most likely to result in bladder injuries were those involving the urinary system. But a rise in keyhole surgery has led to a rise in ureter injuries during operations on women’s reproductive organs.
Injuries to the ureters caused by medical professionals can include accidentally tying/binding/kinking the ureter or inadvertently blocking it with a suture (stitch).
A kidney stone procedure called a ureteroscopy can lead to perforation or abrasion of the ureters. A ureteroscopy involves passing a small telescope (a ureteroscope) through the urethra and bladder and up the ureter to where the kidney stone is located.
Problems with a ureteroscopy can include:
- urinary tract infections
- abnormal pain or bleeding
- pain or a burning sensation during urination
- narrowing of the urethra (due to scar tissue)
- inability to urinate due to swollen tissues
- anaesthesia complications.
Statistically, patients with large ovarian cysts, a larger uterus (12+ weeks of pregnancy) and urinary tract anomalies are at greater risk of complications. Also at risk are women with endometriosis (when the lining of the uterus grows in other places such as the fallopian tubes).
Symptoms of ureter injuries can include:
- blood in the urine
- pain while urinating
- failure of the kidneys to produce urine
- pain in the flanks or lower back
- incontinence and inflammation of the abdominal inner wall.
Only one-third of the doctor-caused ureter injuries are spotted during the primary surgical procedure. These injuries are more likely to be missed during keyhole surgery.
Ruptured Bladder Caused By Medical Negligence
Most bladder ruptures are caused by car and motorcycle accidents. But surgical errors can also be to blame. Examples include failures during:
- Foley catheter replacement – changing the thin tube inserted into the bladder to drain urine
- Midline trocar placement below the navel during keyhole surgery – inserting a trocar (sharp, hollow needle-like instrument) ready for a midline (tube).
Bladder ruptures caused by doctors are usually intraperitoneal: they occur within the thin, transparent membrane that lines the walls of the abdomen. But traumatic ruptures (especially those caused by pelvic fractures) tend to occur in another part of the abdomen.
Spinal cord injuries can lead to bladder problems such as incontinence and an overactive bladder. The location of the spinal injury will determine the severity of the incontinence.
Not all bladder conditions are caused by trauma injuries. In the £815,000 compensation settlement outlined at the top of this page, the patient was allegedly discharged from hospital without being informed correctly that her bladder was not working properly.
Typical bladder conditions include:
- Cystitis – bladder inflammation often caused by infection
- Urinary incontinence – loss of bladder control
- Overactive bladder – the bladder squeezes urine out at the wrong time
- Interstitial cystitis – bladder pain and frequent, urgent urination
- Urinary retention.
Cystitis (Inflammation Of The Bladder)
Cystitis is a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). It is usually caused by bacterial infection. UTIs are common hospital infections, especially among patients using urinary catheters.
Inflammation occurs when bacteria fasten to the lining of the bladder. Cystitis can affect people of all ages but is more common among women.
Most cases of cystitis are mild and go away within a few days. But some types are more serious and can lead to long-term complications.
If left untreated, cystitis can lead to a kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Symptoms of kidney infections include pain in the side or back, fever and chills, nausea and vomiting. Acute pyelonephritis can cause permanent kidney damage.
Kidney infections during pregnancy can cause premature labour, a low birth weight or even a miscarriage.
Find out more here about claiming medical negligence compensation for kidney injuries.
Infection Is Not The Only Cause Of Cystitis
Hospital infections may be to blame for many cystitis cases but there are other ways in which medical treatment can cause the condition:
- radiation treatment in the bladder area (resulting in blood in the urine)
- long-term use of a catheter
- some medications can cause cystitis as they leave your body.
Interstitial Cystitis – Chronic Pain
Interstitial cystitis is a chronic form of the condition (not caused by infection). It can lead to severe pain in the pelvis and bladder.
The condition is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Some cases can last for two years or more.
Interstitial cystitis can be difficult to diagnose and to treat. Find out more here claiming compensation for delayed diagnosis.
Misdiagnosis Of Cystitis
Doctors can fail to diagnose cystitis correctly because other infections (including some sexually transmitted diseases) have similar symptoms.
A hospital trust defending a medical negligence claim may suggest that the infection which resulted in cystitis and subsequent complications came from elsewhere.
There is a wide range of possible causes including tampons, use of a diaphragm, failure to empty the bladder fully, frequent sex (‘honeymoon cystitis’) and menopause (falling oestrogen levels and mucus reduction).
Our experienced medical negligence solicitors are used to dealing with hospital trusts that try to defend failures in clinical care. Contact us for expert legal advice.
Urinary Retention Compensation Claims
You risk permanently damaging your bladder if you are unable to empty it completely. At worst, urinary retention can be life threatening.
Urinary retention can be a side effect after surgery. Doctors and other clinicians must ensure that a patient’s bladder is working properly before discharging them from hospital. Patients can suffer serious long-term bladder damage if urinary retention is left untreated.
The condition is painful. It is more common among men, affecting one per cent of men in their 70s and three per cent in their 80s. It can also affect women.
- difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder completely
- frequent urination, loss of small amounts of urine every day
- a weak dribble of urine
- increased pressure on the abdomen
- waking up more than twice at night to urinate.
Chronic urinary retention is a long-lasting condition; the sufferer can urinate but cannot fully void their bladder.
Acute urinary retention is sudden, painful and potentially life threatening. The sufferer cannot urinate at all. Immediate emergency treatment is needed.
There are various causes of urinary retention:
- obstructive – a blockage due to a urethral stricture (scarring that narrows the tube), urinary tract stones, cystocele (prolapsed bladder), rectocele (vaginal wall bulge), constipation, tumour/cancers
- non-obstructive – a weak bladder muscle, nerve problems that interfere with the signals between brain and bladder.
Certain medicines have also been linked with urinary retention including some:
- antipsychotic drugs
- benzodiazephines (used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms)
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- calcium channel antagonists (used to lower blood pressure)
- detrusor relaxants (used to treat irritable bladders).
Was your bladder damaged because you were mis-prescribed or over-prescribed certain drugs?
Did your doctors fail to diagnose your bladder retention problem in time? Did they fail to tell you that your bladder was not working properly when they discharged you from hospital?
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Partner, Head of Medical Negligence
Medical Negligence Executive
Serious Injury Paralegal and Assistant to David Simpson