While a hysterectomy is a relatively common medical procedure, there’s always a small risk that the hysterectomy goes wrong and you could face an adverse outcome following the surgery. If you suspect that the doctor who performed the procedure is to blame for your suffering because of their negligence, you may be able to file a malpractice claim and sue to obtain compensation.
In the following guide, we’ll talk about some of the most common risks associated with hysterectomies. We’ll also explain the kind of evidence that needs to be presented in a successful malpractice case, and the main obstacles you’ll encounter during the course of a hysterectomy-related medical malpractice lawsuit, before concluding with a list of actionable steps you can take in the event that your hysterectomy has gone wrong.
Most common complications and causes of malpractice
The hysterectomy is the most frequently performed gynaecological surgical procedure, with approximately 55,000 women undergoing the procedure every year in the UK. As with any other kind of surgery, there are risks associated with hysterectomy. Common complications following a hysterectomy include post-op infection, damage or injury to the bladder or urethral area, perforation of the small intestines or bowel, intestinal obstruction, and granulation of the vaginal vault.
If the negligence of your physician directly causes or contributes to any of the aforementioned complications, or if they failed to inform you of these risks, they could be liable for malpractice. Likewise, you could have a case if the doctor failed to receive your consent before performing additional procedures or if they based their performance on an inaccurate diagnosis. The most common reason why physicians are sued following a hysterectomy is because the surgery was unnecessary.
Clinics and surgeons have indemnity insurance to help cover the cost of being sued for malpractice following a hysterectomy. Incision Indemnity, a major indemnity insurance provider for physicians in the UK, issued insurance limits totalling £7.23 billion to policyholders in 2017 alone. All those legal fees and claims are spread out across the medical field, but hysterectomy malpractice cases regularly make up a small fraction.
How to prove hysterectomy malpractice
Adverse outcomes, complications and risks aren’t always the result of malpractice or negligence, so in order to win a malpractice case you’ll have to show that your injury or suffering was directly caused by the inappropriate actions of the physician. You’ll also need to show that the gynaecologist who performed the procedure failed to provide a level of care comparable to what a reasonable gynaecologist would provide under the same conditions.
You may need to enlist the help of an expert medical professional who has experience performing hysterectomies – ideally a practicing gynaecologist with a good reputation. This witness will need to testify that the doctor who performed your procedures did not live up to the fundamental standards of patient care.
Furthermore, you’ll need to prove that your injury or suffering was directly caused by the gynaecologist’s inability to meet the proper standard of care before, during, or after the procedure. Thus, it can be difficult to know immediately whether you’ve been the victim of malpractice, as it may take time for your condition to develop and then be re-assessed by a credible witness.
Steps to take if your hysterectomy has gone wrong
First, if you feel as though your suffering was caused or worsened by the gynaecologist who performed the procedure, you should begin by consulting with a lawyer who specialises in medical malpractice cases. Ideally, you’ll want to find a firm or lawyer who has experience in dealing with cases related to hysterectomies.
Here are a few things to ask about and take note of during your initial consultation with a lawyer:
- Deadlines – how long do you have to file the lawsuit?
- Prerequisite requirements – such as submitting to a pretrial screening panel
- Compensation limits and caps – the maximum amount you could be awarded if your case is won
- Expert Witnesses – selecting and retaining a professional gynaecologist who can testify on your behalf
After all of the above is taken care of, if your solicitor and expert witness is able to demonstrate that your case is worthwhile, the focus will shift towards the type and extent of the damages caused by your gynaecologist. At this final stage of the lawsuit, the judge and other involved parties will deliberate to determine how much suffering you were caused and the financial cost of your injury in terms of lost wages and medical bills.
While it can be difficult to think about legal proceedings and proof when you’re in pain, it’s imperative that you act immediately if you believe your suffering is due to the negligence of your gynaecologist. At a bare minimum, you should consult with a lawyer, as sharing the details of your case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney is fast, simple, and it should be able to tell you whether your case is worth pursuing.