We helped a woman successfully resolve a case against a regional public hospital (“the hospital”) in respect of a failed tubal ligation.
The procedure was performed by a first-year registrar in training who was also an employee of the hospital. A visiting specialist obstetrician gynaecologist was present in the operating theatre and supervised the first-year registrar during the procedure.
Two years after the procedure, our client discovered she was pregnant. Upon investigation, it was discovered that our client’s right fallopian tube had not been occluded, and the tube remained patent. Our client gave birth to her fourth child, by caesarean section, 6 years after the birth of her third child.
During the caesarean section, the same specialist obstetrician gynaecologist who supervised the tubal ligation some years earlier, removed both fallopian tubes and sent them for histopathology analysis. The results were forwarded to the specialist obstetrician gynaecologist. After reviewing the histopathology report and following the delivery of our client’s fourth child, she asked the specialist why she became pregnant after having had the sterilisation procedure. The specialist told our client that the right fallopian tube had grown back together or re-anastomosed. This was false.
Ongoing gynaecological problems following the pregnancy
Following the pregnancy, our client developed abnormal uterine bleeding and consulted another gynaecologist. That gynaecologist recommended and performed a hysteroscopy (viewing inside the uterus by way of a hysteroscope) and dilatation and curettage of the uterus to try to resolve the bleeding. The procedure was unsuccessful, and the bleeding continued.
Ultimately, our client had to undergo a vaginal hysterectomy. The histopathology of the uterus following the hysterectomy revealed adenomyosis (a condition where the endometrium breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus which can result in heavy menstrual periods) as the cause of our client’s abnormal uterine bleeding. The adenomyosis was caused or contributed to by the fact of our client’s fourth pregnancy – a consequence of the failed tubal ligation.
Pursuing an outcome for our client
We argued that the hospital had a non-delegable duty (the imposition of liability on one person for the negligence of another – in this case the hospital and Local Health District for the negligence of the two doctors) to manage our client with reasonable care and skill in the performance and supervision of the sterilisation procedure.
Further, that the hospital breached its duty of care in respect of the actions of the first-year registrar in training, who failed to appropriately occlude our client’s right fallopian tube with reasonable care and skill. In respect of the specialist obstetrician gynaecologist, we argued that he failed to ensure that the first-year registrar in training was properly supervised in the performance of the sterilisation procedure and further, that he told our client that her pregnancy, following the sterilisation procedure, was due to the right fallopian tube having grown back together when he knew that was false.
Damage caused to our client
The breach of duty of the hospital and specialist gynaecologist in failing to properly supervise the trainee registrar caused or contributed to cause our client injury, loss and damage including our client’s pregnancy with her fourth child; labour and delivery of that child; the development of adenomyosis; abnormal bleeding; the need for medical and surgical treatment of the abnormal bleeding; emotional distress and pain and suffering.
While the birth of our client’s fourth child was a joyous occasion, the consequential medical issues she suffered and the surgery she required to correct those issues, were avoidable and unnecessary but for the original failed surgery. We successfully sought and obtained significant compensation for our client.
If you or a loved one has experienced injuries as a result of medical negligence, our caring, expert lawyers can help advocate for you and seek justice. Please consider contacting us to talk about the options available to you.