Over £1 million compensation for a woman whose hernia diagnosis was delayed

Specialist medical negligence solicitor Hannah Carr has secured over £1 million medical negligence compensation for a woman whose hernia diagnosis was delayed. This resulted in a life-threatening hernia strangulation.

‘Natalie’, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, first became ill in 2010 and was admitted to her local hospital. While at the hospital, she was given a CT scan, but the scan was misreported and doctors failed to diagnose her epigastric hernia, so she was sent home.

Unfortunately, Natalie’s symptoms deteriorated significantly over time and, despite continuing signs and symptoms of an epigastric hernia, there was a failure to diagnose it until the point at which it became strangulated – requiring an emergency admission to hospital. A strangulated hernia is a potentially fatal condition in which the blood supply to the small intestine is cut off.

Natalie needed urgent keyhole surgery (laparotomy) due to the hernia strangulation, and part of her small bowel was removed (a small bowel resection).

The life-changing impact of hernia diagnosis delays

Following her emergency surgery, Natalie developed short bowel syndrome (SBS), a condition in which your body cannot absorb enough nutrients from the foods you eat because you do not have enough small intestine.

The symptoms of SBS are incredibly debilitating and include severe diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss, malnutrition and swelling (oedema). Natalie also suffered from severe bile salt malabsorption, eye cataracts due to her body not getting enough nutrition and psychiatric complications, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to her ordeal in the hospital and her ongoing health challenges.

Natalie says:

“The delay in getting my hernia diagnosed has devastated my life in every way.  My symptoms are challenging to manage, and so it isn’t easy to even contemplate leaving the house sometimes.  I’m constantly thinking about the timing of my medications, whether I’m going to mess myself, whether there will be a toilet nearby and whether my pain will be unbearable. 

“It’s almost impossible to be spontaneous now.  If I’m going to a restaurant, I must check if there’s something that I can eat because certain foods can have severe and embarrassing consequences. I also have to cook separate meals for the rest of the family because there are now many types of food that I cannot tolerate.

“I am unable to go to work. Socialising has become difficult – everything depends on whether I’m having a good or a bad day in terms of my episodes of incontinence, as well as my pain and discomfort levels.

“I try to exercise as I recognise this is good for my mental health, and I go for walks in the early mornings if my symptoms allow it. My poor health has affected my mood, but I do try to be as positive as I can be in the circumstances.”

A nurse mentioned to Natalie that she might have a case for a medical negligence claim. The nurse had read her records and was not happy that Natalie’s hernia had been initially missed, leading to the life-threatening strangulated hernia and the need for urgent, invasive surgery.

She put the thought out of her mind because she felt too poorly to contact a specialist solicitor, but at a particularly low point early in 2016, when her GP admitted it was proving difficult to deal adequately with her, she reached out to Novum Law for expert help.

Before Novum Law came on board, Natalie was struggling to get any answers about what had happened to her and felt she had no adequate support to manage her condition daily. She says:

“I’d had no explanation of what had happened or how I should be managing my condition.  I have to say the quality of the experts that Hannah Carr brought in to help was outstanding. They led to me understanding so much more about my condition, and that’s helped me massively because it’s also helped to put in place strategies to improve my quality of life.”

Hannah Carr says:

“When I met Natalie, I was shocked at the level of her suffering due to her SBS and the impact on her quality of life. Her dietary and nutritional deficiencies and her faecal urgency and incontinence issues are sadly, permanent, and at the age of just 51, Natalie has cataracts which require surgery soon, as well as risk of further eyesight issues – all associated with dietary deficiencies.

“Natalie’s ongoing and future care needs are significant, and she may require intrusive and costly intervention and therapeutic input.  Her property also requires adaptations, and because of her poor health, she is unable to return to work, not even in a voluntary position. Sadly, her condition will likely deteriorate over time with advancing age.

“It was clear to me that Natalie had a good case for a medical negligence claim and that if she’d been properly diagnosed in the first place, she would have had a straightforward recovery without any long-term, life-changing complications.”

Hannah succeeded in getting the NHS Trust involved in Natalie’s care to admit liability, and over £1 million compensation was secured.

Natalie says:

“I can’t thank Hannah enough for her outstanding help. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better medical negligence solicitor.  She’s helped obtain much-needed answers about my condition, which have, in turn, helped me to rebuild my life.

“Having access to the correct legal representation is vital.  The best analogy I can give is that your solicitor becomes part of the family, a friend, a confidante, and your advocate – quite literally. I felt that Hannah listened to everything I told her and really understood my symptoms and the effect on my life.

“If I had a query, I knew that I didn’t have to worry because it would be promptly dealt with.  It was so beneficial that Hannah kept me regularly updated – even if it was just an email saying hello, asking how I was and updating me on her progress.  This regular contact stopped me from worrying or wondering what was going on and nothing ever felt like too much trouble.

“When you go through a life-changing situation, you have to think about yourself and the future.  For me, I wanted to better understand what had happened and why and then, flowing from that, what that meant for me long-term and whether there were any opportunities for me to better manage my condition.  That’s where Novum Law and Hannah came in.

“You need an expert solicitor acting for you – it’s vital both physically and mentally and to move forwards. I didn’t specifically seek medical negligence compensation for the money, so actually, since the settlement, it hasn’t registered with me.  All I keep thinking of is that now I need to learn to put one foot in front of the other to move forwards.

“Instructing Novum Law has been the best thing I’ve done. It’s been a very good service, and I feel like Hannah is part of the family.  I think what Hannah does is amazing.  I got the outcome I wanted – the answers and the funds to improve my quality of life.”

If you or a loved one has suffered due to misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, delayed treatment, treatment errors or another type of medical negligence, then please get in touch – call Novum Law on Freephone 0800 884 0777, email: info@novumlaw.com or complete the enquiry form on this page.


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