Negligent Bowel Removal Leading to Chronic Incontinence: Winning Long-Outstanding Medical Negligence Claims

Published: 13th June 2024

We acted for a client who was suffering from acute incontinence as a result of the removal of her bowel in 1997. She had in fact instructed solicitors to pursue a claim in 2003, but had abandoned the claim.

We obtained reports from a colorectal surgeon and a gastroenterologist, which confirmed that the decision to remove her colon was negligent. She should have gone through a whole succession of assessments first, and only as a last resort should her colon be removed. They also confirmed that if she had gone through those assessments, on the balance of probabilities, the operation would not have been needed.

However, the case was at least 20 years out of date. Normally, a claimant only has three years from the date that she suspects that she has suffered negligence and has suffered injury from it. We therefore had to issue proceedings to ask for permission from the court to go ahead with the case, which was more than 20 years out of time. The courts have clarified that if there can be a fair trial, that is the biggest consideration in deciding whether permission should be allowed. In this case, the medical records had been preserved, so we felt there could be a fair trial.

We settled the case four weeks before trial at a mediation meeting, with the claimant receiving £25,000 in damages for each year for the rest of her life.