3 patients ‘mutilated’ by surgeon in a week prompts NHS shake-up

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The Royal College of Surgeons was called in to investigate a string of devastating injuries from routine surgery by the same surgeon about which the offending NHS trust had remained silent.

An RAF veteran in the UK has been left with life-changing injuries after being “mutilated” by a National Health Service (NHS) surgeon during what should have been a routine procedure.

The Independent reports that Paul Tooth has been permanently left with tubes going in and out of his body which he needs to continually recycle bile produced by his liver. It was supposed to be a routine gall bladder removal, but the surgeon inexplicably took out Paul’s bile duct and hepatic duct, which link the liver to the intestines, as well as damaging the liver itself, making a repair impossible.

The report says although he has won his legal battle against the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust, Paul believes what happened to him raises bigger safety questions for the trust after he learned he was one of three patients harmed by the same surgeon just days apart.

The alarm was first raised by Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where the three patients were transferred for specialist care after their initial operations.

Tooth only learnt the full extent of what had happened when he overheard Addenbrooke clinicians talking about his injury during a procedure using a camera to explore the liver. He said: “They tried to whitewash us. Nobody told us there were other patients until nine months after the event. The surgeon never reported the other two cases.

“He should have reported himself and stopped. The only reason he was stopped was because Addenbrooke’s reported it to the trust.”

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) expert review expressed concerns over the treatment of patients like Paul who need their gall bladder removing after suffering with gall stones. The RCS found some patients were waiting 18 months or more, with more than half being readmitted as emergencies while they waited.

While the RCS review has not been made public, nor will the trust share a summary of its key findings following the inquiry, in a letter to Tooth, the trust’s medical director Erika Denton, revealed the review had raised concerns about long waits for some patients needing gall bladder surgery and made recommendations about “team working and learning from incidents”.

The Independent reports that Norfolk and Norwich trust has now admitted liability for the errors and standard of care Paul received.


Full report in The Independent (Restricted access)

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