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Bowel Injury Sustained During Sterilisation

As with all surgery, female sterilisation carries a number of risks, one of which is injury to the bowel. There are different ways in which such an injury may happen, with some of the most common including:-

  • Perforation when the Veress needle is inserted;
  • Perforation when the laparoscopic trocars are inserted;
  • Injury when the small bowel is manipulated during laparoscopy.

Even if the surgeon displays the utmost skill and competence during the procedure, a bowel injury can still occur in any of the aforementioned ways. A sterilisation patient who sustains a bowel injury may not, therefore, be the victim of medical negligence. However, where claims do often arise is when doctors fail to diagnose and repair a bowel injury in a timely fashion, in turn causing additional health problems for the individual concerned. If this has happened to you, read on to find out what options are available to you.

Diagnosing bowel injury after sterilisation

If a bowel injury does occur during sterilisation, it vitally important that it is detected and repaired as soon as possible preferably during the operation itself. Nevertheless, it is documented that at least 50% of small bowel injury go unnoticed at the time they are caused, so the problem may not become apparent until the patient recovers from the general anaesthetic.

In such cases a patient will quickly develop symptoms that should alert doctors to the possibility of a perforated bowel. Initially this will include a bloated, uncomfortable feeling that deteriorates into an agonising abdominal pain, along with a raised temperature and heart rate. If a patient presents with these symptoms soon after a sterilisation, she should undergo immediate testing to determine whether or not the underlying cause is a bowel injury. This will include an x-ray and CT scan to analyse whether there is any residual gas in the abdominal cavity. If clinical investigations suggest a bowel injury, a patient should undergo emergency treatment to have the perforation repaired.

Failure to diagnose bowel injury sustained during sterilisation

However, if doctors repeatedly fail to recognise the signs indicative of a bowel injury, a patient's health will rapidly decline. Faeces and other waste products will leak through the perforation in the bowel into the abdominal cavity, causing a serious infection called peritonitis. This can lead to sepsis (infection of the blood) and, ultimately, organ failure. This will have severe consequences for a patient, increasing their pain and suffering, prolonging recovery time and potentially even causing psychological issues, long-term health complications or, in a few extreme cases, death.

If you have suffered a bowel perforation during sterilisation that was not diagnosed in a timely fashion, you need to contact a solicitor for advice. This is because a delay in diagnosis may well amount to medical negligence. If so, you will be entitled to pursue a medical negligence claim for the injuries you have sustained. Should you be successful, you will be awarded compensation for the pain, suffering and financial loss you have incurred as a direct result of medical incompetence.

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