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June 15th 2021

Medical Negligence

Negligence of ‘the highest level’ as surgeon performs unnecessary vaginal reconstruction surgery on client

Michelle Tebbutt

Michelle Tebbutt

Associate Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

Negligence of ‘the highest level’ as surgeon performs unnecessary vaginal reconstruction surgery on client

Damages have been awarded for a woman who suffered medical negligence when undergoing life-changing vaginal reconstruction surgery, including a removal of the clitoris, even though UK guidelines advise against it.

Damages have been awarded for a woman who suffered medical negligence when undergoing life-changing vaginal reconstruction surgery, including a removal of the clitoris, even though UK guidelines advise against it.

This vital error has led to cosmetic deformities and a need for repeated revisional surgeries, all of which have had a severe impact on our client’s life.

Prior to surgery, our client had suffered from an inflammatory condition around the genital area which had been successfully treated until 2014 when it began to deteriorate.

At this point, our client saw a consultant gynaecological oncologist at Hull Royal Infirmary who noted that there was no sign of more extensive issues or tumours, and that a need for surgery was “certainly not indicated”.

Surgery is not appropriate for a condition like this if there are no signs of more serious issues such as tumours or cancer and would instead usually be treated with moisturisers and other topical therapies.

However, when meeting with a surgeon at the hospital, he proposed radical surgery involving removal of the clitoris and plastic surgical reconstruction.

It was explained that these procedures would not guarantee that her symptoms would disappear, but that this would be “quite likely”.

Our client was informed that “all conservative medical measures” had been exhausted. This was incorrect.

Our client should have instead been referred to a specialist clinic where different approaches would have been advised including an assessment by a dermatologist.

There, she would have been treated with adjuvant treatments such as moisturisers.

Following the surgery, our client has been left with the inability to pass urine normally or partake in sexual intercourse, all of which has had a significant impact on our client’s day to day life and marriage.

To this date attempts are being made to correct this error.

Surgeon had ‘duty of care’ to decline surgery

Michelle Tebbutt, one of Hudgell Solicitors’ expert medical negligence lawyers, worked on behalf of the claimant and says her client should have never undergone such life changing surgery.

“For me, my work is about seeking justice for those that have been significantly harmed by those they should be able to rely upon and trust the most,” she said.

“This case illustrates negligence at the highest level.

“My hope is that this case helps to ensure this type of life changing surgery, where there is no clinical indication that it is needed, will not happen again.

“The guidelines are clear that such radical surgery should not be offered unless there are concerns of malignancy or scarring sufficient to disable the patient’s natural function. This had been ruled out; therefore surgery should never have been indicated or agreed.

“The defendant had a duty of care to decline to undertake the surgery and to outline the reasons why. He should have advised that not only was such surgery going to cosmetically alter her, but that it would also not have cured her condition.

“Our client should never have been listed for this surgery. She should have been referred to a dermatologist and treated conservatively.”

Medical negligence claim – the legal case

After initially having her case dismissed by another law firm, the claimant contacted Hudgell Solicitors’ specialist medical negligence lawyers and Michelle Tebbutt was able to instruct on her behalf.

Ms Tebbutt secured positive evidence from a medical expert who highlighted UK guidelines stressing the importance of a need for referral to a clinic rather than a need for surgery. Medical experts supported the claim throughout and stressed that had guidelines been followed, treatment would have been successful.

Evidence also confirmed that our client’s vulval area has been significantly distorted, which has impacted on her urinary flow and her ability to partake in sexual intercourse.

In the first instance, the defendant strenuously denied the claim, however Michelle was able to secure damages of £150,000 for our client.

The case settled out of court.

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