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30 June 2015

Inconsistent levels of care contributing to bowel surgery deaths

Experts who have carried out an audit of care across the UK have found that 11% of patients having emergency bowel procedures die within 30 days.

The report, done by the National Emergency Laparotomy Audit (NELA), looked at data from 21,000 patients from 192 eligible NHS hospitals.

The findings highlighted in some hospitals that between 30-40% of patients did not receive ‘expected’ standards of care. More than half of patients (52%) did not see a consultant surgeon within the recommended 12 hours of their admission to hospital. Other issues included not enough specialist doctors, delays in diagnosis, a lack of operating theatres and poor antibiotic therapy.

Each year in England and Wales, over 30,000 patients have emergency bowel surgery. The procedure has a higher mortality rate than any other planned surgery that adults undergo, including heart and cancer operations.

Professor Mike Groot, chairman of the NELA, suggested a slight improvement in performance could have a significant impact on the current varying standards of care. He said the key to improving was understanding what was being done well and sharing best practice across NHS hospitals up and down the UK.

The president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Clare Marx, is concerned the death rate for bowel surgery is too high. “This audit demonstrates patients are still not accessing a consistently high standard of care from initial assessment through post-operative care.”

Longden, Walker & Renney are experienced in dealing with surgery negligence. In 2012, we helped obtained damages for a client who suffered a ureteric injury and as a result, the claim was settled at £80,000. Our aim is to achieve compensation to cover corrective treatment, in addition to any suffering or financial loss you may have experienced.

If you or someone that you know is suffering following an error during surgery then call one of our experienced team of solicitors on 0191 5666 500. You can also request a callback via our online enquiry form and we’ll get in touch at a time that is convenient for you. Your initial advice session will be free and you will be under no obligation.