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Posted on 16th June 2017

Delayed Life-Saving Surgery Caused The Death Of Patient

A 72 year old man suffering from pancreatitis needed surgery within two weeks according to NICE guidelines.

In August 2015, the man suffered from an acute attack of pancreatitis and gallstone disease, in order to provide treatment, he was admitted for a week.

When the time came to discharge the man, he was reviewed by a junior doctor who put a plan together for a review by an upper GI (gastro-intestinal) surgeon within six weeks. The plan was for the patient’s gall bladder to be removed. NICE guidelines say that the surgery should be complete within two weeks.

An appointment was made for the surgical appointment nearly 14 weeks later on 20th November 15 in Penzance which was a two-and-a-half hour round trip.

The patient re-arranged his November appointment to an earlier one on 6th October 15 which would have been 7 weeks from the date he was discharged. During the appointment with the consultant, pre-operation assessments were not carried out meaning that the patient had to wait for blood tests and an ECG. The man was referred by his consultant for urgent gallbladder surgery.

The man had a pre-operation assessment over the telephone performed by a nurse and other tests were performed by his GP surgery on 19th November 2015. Due to an error at the GP Surgery, not all required tests were performed and the GP surgery was not told until nearly a month later.

On 3rd January 2016, the man suffered a further bout of pancreatitis which was even more serious, causing his death.

The inquest heard how an independent expert witness confirmed had the surgery taken place earlier, the patient would not have died. A report produced for the hospital trust stated “during the patients first stay in hospital in August there were 10 consultants employed by the hospital and four or five of those consultants would have been able to perform the surgery.” The report continued “due to working one week on call, there was no surgeon available to carry out the urgent operation during his hospital stay”


A delay in a routine operation will not usually be sign of a negligent act though this case highlights, if the operation is required as an emergency and it is delayed, there could be a case for medical negligence.

Negligence Claimline have the experience and the specialist knowledge to know when a delayed non routine operation is grounds to make a compensation claim for clinical negligence.

If you have experienced such delays, contact us on 03303359210 or for a free claim assessment.