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 Surgery Compensation Claims

You Can Still Claim – Even Though You Signed A Consent Form

All surgery carries risks. You will have signed a consent form, acknowledging the risks and allowing the operation to go ahead.

But that consent form does not automatically free the surgeon or any other healthcare staff from blame if something goes wrong. Especially if you were not:

  • told the correct information
  • told about all the possible risks
  • told how probable or severe the risks were
  • offered the choice of a less risky, less invasive treatment.

If you were not given all the facts in an easy-to-understand way, then you could not have given the doctors your informed consent.

So even if you signed a consent form, you could still claim compensation.

Coles Miller handles all medical negligence claims on a No Win No Fee basis – so there is no financial risk to you.

Fatal Or Lifechanging Surgical Errors

Some mistakes by surgeons (or anaesthetists) are so serious that they result in death or lifechanging injuries. Brain and spinal injuries can be particularly severe.

Compensation claims for these mistakes can result in six- and seven- figure payouts by NHS trusts – especially if the victim is young and is left needing round-the-clock care for the rest of their lives.

‘Never Events’ – Mistakes That Should Never Happen

‘Never events’ are blunders so serious that they are inexcusable – they should never happen. Sadly, they do happen, and with alarming regularity.

Between April 2018 and July 2019 there were 621 NHS ‘never events’. They included:

  • patients undergoing a procedure intended for someone else
  • ‘wrong site surgery’ (surgeons removing or operating on the wrong body part) – or unnecessary operations
  • surgical equipment – such as needles, drill bits, gloves, chest drains and swabs – being left inside the patient 
  • patients being given ordinary air instead of oxygen (a potentially fatal error).

Here is the NHS’s list of recent ‘never events’

Suing The NHS For A Surgical Error

Nobody wants to sue the NHS – especially not in these troubled times. But as a victim of medical negligence, you may have little or no choice You will need treatment and care to put right or mitigate the injuries done to you. That could involve expensive private treatment.

Furthermore, you deserve a formal apology from the NHS trust for what its clinicians did to you. And you’ll want to know that the NHS has put measures in place to stop similar mistakes from happening to other patients.

Common causes of surgical errors include incompetence, poor planning before the operation, lack of communication, fatigue and complacency.

Often, those causes are not simply down to one surgeon – they may be the consequences of poor management at the NHS trust concerned. That culture is not going to change unless the victims of medical negligence take action and seek specialist legal advice.

It doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful because our No Win No Fee solicitors will take up your case on your behalf. You almost certainly won’t have to go to court – 99% of all cases are settled out of court.

Examples Of Successful Compensation Claims

Cases won by our medical negligence solicitors include:

  • operation performed on the wrong side and wrong level of the back (a ‘never event’) – £282,500 compensation
  • bile leak, bowel problems, abdominal scarring, infection, hernia, psychological injuries after keyhole surgery to remove the gallbladder – £107,500 compensation (following NHS’s initial offer of £45,000) 
  • cardiac procedure, failure to obtain the patient’s informed consent – £45,000 compensation
  • knee replacement performed negligently – £30,000 compensation
  • foot operation, screw inserted was too long and required revision – £25,000 compensation
  • operation to remove plate previously inserted in patient’s wrist, did not have the right equipment and so procedure abandoned – £15,000 compensation.

Most Common Surgical Errors

As experienced medical negligence solicitors, we see the NHS making the same mistakes over and over again. And for the same reasons.

Understaffed hospitals result in overworked clinicians who sooner or later get something wrong because they are tired and stressed. NHS trusts that rely too heavily on agency staff and locum doctors can be vulnerable to ‘never events’ and other surgical errors.

Common surgical errors include:

  • giving the patient too much anaesthetic – leading to brain damage or death due to lack of oxygen
  • too little anaesthetic – causing the patient to wake up in the middle of their operation
  • foreign objects being left inside the patient – causing pain and potentially fatal infections
  • painful and debilitating nerve damage caused by a surgeon making a wrong cut with their scalpel, causing permanent disability in the worst cases.

Other errors can include:

  • keyhole surgery complications such as blood clots in veins or an air embolism (trapped air in a blood vessel) in the lungs – this can be fatal
  • perforating the liver, bladder, bowel and spleen (or failing to notice damage to them)
  • damaging the bile duct during an operation to remove an inflamed gallbladder
  • severing vital arteries or nerves
  • failed hip replacement operations, leading to long-term pain and/or one leg being longer than the other (and many cases are caused by defective metal-on-metal hip joints)
  • damaging the spinal cord during surgery to the back (leading to permanent paralysis) or pinching nerves while scraping a disc (leading to neurological damage)
  • failure to diagnose or treat infection promptly following an operation, leading to blood poisoning and/or sepsis (both of which can be fatal)
  • failing to complete a surgical procedure
  • transfusing infected or incorrect blood.
c2ag_200x153_3_APIL Accredited Brain Injury Specialist
personal injury
c2ag_200x153_3_APIL Accredited Personal Injury Specialist Senior Litigator

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Meet the team

Adrian Cormack

Partner, Head of Personal Injury Department

David Simpson

Partner, Head of Medical Negligence

Lydia Barnett


Lucy Andrew

Costs Lawyer

Gen Clarke


Hannah Chave