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Post-Hysterectomy Haemorrhage

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove the uterus (otherwise known as the womb). This may be done for a number of reasons, with some of the most common including to prevent the development of cervical cancer, and to stop troublesome periods.

Does a haemorrhage during hysterectomy amount to negligence?

Like all operations, a hysterectomy does carry certain risks. One such risk is the possibility of excessive bleeding, known medically as a haemorrhage. In terms of a vaginal hysterectomy (where the uterus is removed via the vagina) the incidence of haemorrhage is one to five per cent. It is therefore a very small risk, but it is important a patient is advised upon all possible complications before she signs the consent form.

As a recognised and often unavoidable occurrence, a post-operative haemorrhage will not in itself amount to medical negligence. Indeed, even if a surgeon displays the highest level of skill, it is possible that a slipped ligature or inadequately closed vessel goes unnoticed. But where there may be grounds for negligence is the subsequent diagnosis and treatment of a post-operative haemorrhage.

Treating a post-hysterectomy haemorrhage

After surgery, a hysterectomy patient will usually be transferred to the gynaecology ward. If she then begins to develop problems, steps must be taken to identify the issue. When there is intra-abdominal bleeding, a patient will ordinarily present with falling blood pressure, a rising pulse, nausea, shortness of breath and pain that is worse on breathing in. There may also be blood in the urine and a tender abdomen. If there is a failure to recognise these symptoms and make a timely diagnosis of post-operative haemorrhage, the level of care will be considered substandard and there could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

When intra-abdominal bleeding is diagnosed, medical professionals must assess the situation and decide upon the best possible course of treatment. If a patient's vital signs are such that intervention is mandatory, she must be taken to theatre as a matter of urgency. If there is a failure to do so, causing a patient to become increasingly unwell, the actions (or rather inactions) of doctors will be considered unreasonable and therefore negligent.

However, it is possible that the bleeding will stop spontaneously. Because of this, some medical professionals prefer to take a more conservative approach and wait to see how the problem develops. There can be a number of benefits in doing so. Primarily, a patient will not have to undergo another operation, which will usually be performed by way of open abdominal surgery. This will leave a scar and slow down a patient's recovery. But if a patient does not respond to treatment in this way, she should be taken back to theatre. If medical professionals fail to react appropriately, there could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

Have you got a medical negligence claim?

If you have suffered a post-hysterectomy haemorrhage which you believe was negligently managed by medical professionals, you need to speak to a legal expert without delay. A solicitor who specialises in this area of the law will be able to advise whether you could be entitled to compensation.

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Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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