Jonathan Holl-Allen successfully defends professor of gynaecology in High Court proceedings relating to laparoscopic surgery
2nd December 2013
On 14 November 2013 HHJ Forster QC, sitting as a Judge of the High Court, gave judgment for the defendant professor of gynaecology in the case of Weeks v Wright. The claimant had undergone laparoscopic surgery performed by the defendant for recto-vaginal endometriosis. Following the surgery she had developed a perforation of the bowel and required a laparotomy and colostomy. It was not in dispute that she had suffered damage to the bowel as a result of the use of diathermy during the procedure. It was however contended on behalf of the claimant that the damage had been caused negligently as a result of direct application of the diathermy instrument to rectal tissue, and that the rectal probe had not been used adequately to identify the position of the rectum and the plane of dissection between the rectum and the vagina. A video of the procedure was part of the evidence at trial. The judge accepted the defendant’s evidence that the probe had been used correctly, and that the damage to the bowel wall, resulting in a subsequent perforation, was caused by the spread of heat from the diathermy instrument. Such damage was a recognised complication of the procedure which could, and in this case did, occur without any negligence on the part of the surgeon.
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