Q: I have long suffered recurring bouts of tonsillitis so my GP referred me to hospital to have my tonsils removed. The consent form at the hospital described the operation as ‘routine’ and only noted ‘bleeding’ and ‘infection’ as possible risks. However, after the operation my speech was affected to the extent that I required speech therapy. After several examinations I was told I have a significant degree of scarring from the surgery and this is the cause of my speech problems.
A year on I still have speech issues, and embarrassingly bad breath. I have also had to leave my job as a sales representative because I couldn’t communicate effectively with the customers. I now work as a cleaner. Can I make a claim for damages?
A: You may be able to bring a clinical negligence claim for damages, against the NHS Trust responsible. The Consultant who carried out the procedure had a duty of care to ensure that the surgery was performed to the standard reasonably expected for this type of surgery. The significant scarring you have may suggest that the treatment fell below those standards.
It also seems that you were not advised of all the potential risks. The Consultant had a duty to explain the possible implications of surgery to you. There may be a further allegation of negligence against the Trust if you can prove that had you known of those risks you would not have proceeded with the surgery.
If you are able to establish that the Trust breached their duty of care and this caused you to suffer loss, you would be entitled to claim damages. Your claim would include financial losses, such as past loss of earnings. Also, if your future earning capacity has been affected, you may claim for this too. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible.