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Sepsis from Unnecessary Gallstone Surgery

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Our medical negligence solicitors acted for the family of an active and much-loved grandfather who passed away from sepsis at The Royal Oldham hospital. The grandfather went into the hospital for gallstone removal surgery but as it turned out he did not have any gallstones and further mistakes were made.

An inquest following his death stated that a procedure undertaken 6 days prior to death at The Royal Oldham Hospital caused a perforation that took his life. The Coroner held that the procedure should never have been undertaken and the family instructed us to act for them.

ERCP Procedure

As part of his initial treatment, he was given an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). An ERCP is a procedure carried out by doctors to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas, with a combination of X-ray and the use of an endoscope - a long, flexible, lighted tube.

Other investigative tests can be carried out externally instead of ERCP, such as MRI scanning.

Following the procedure, his condition rapidly deteriorated and it was noted that the patient had severe pain, nausea, vomiting and a fever, with accompanying intra-abdominal sepsis.  It was stated that all of this could have been avoided if the ERCP had not gone ahead and the doctors had taken a 'wait and see' approach.  If that had been the case it is expected that the patient would have made a full recovery and still be with his loving family.

Compensation for Gallstone Surgery

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust admitted responsibility and the case was settled out of court with a compensation award of £48,000.

Prior to his final illness, he was a fit, active 76 year old.  He was married with two adult children and grand-children and very much involved in their lives, picking them up from school every day and caring for them whilst their respective parents worked.

His wife was very much reliant on him as she does not drive and he was very active about the house doing maintenance and DIY.

The action was brought on behalf of the estate pursuant to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and on behalf of his dependants pursuant to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

“Once we pursued this case breach of duty of care and ultimately,  negligence, was admitted soon after. The family were able to gain some answers and closure, with a hope that lessons can be learnt and the same mistakes not repeated,” said medical negligence solicitor, Daniel Phelps.

Fatal Accidents Act Bereavement Award

The Fatal Accidents Act provides compensation to families for loss on the death of a person caused by actionable wrong.  It allows for claims to be made by the relatives and dependants of the deceased in their own right and includes losses arising after the date of death.

Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act

The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act allows the deceased’s estate to recover some of the losses that the deceased was entitled to claim before they died; such as general damages for pain and suffering, financial losses and funeral expenses (provided they were paid for by the deceased’s estate).

How can we help

When medical professionals make mistakes and things go wrong it’s difficult to accept enough, but when unnecessary hospital procedures lead to fatal consequences lessons need to be learned.

For advice on medical negligence claims contact our specialist medical team on 0161 785 3500 or

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Daniel Phelps


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