I had routine keyhole surgery for a hiatus hernia (a Nissen fundoplication) in December 2006 at one of the hospitals now under scrutiny following the recent investigation.
I should have been in and out in 24 hours. However, a few hours after the operation, I was given a light meal and withing a few minutes I was in agonising pain. The self pain relief equipment was empty and the nurse on duty could not find the correct paperwork to renew it. The pain increased and spread from my lower abdomen to my chest. I could not stop myself from crying out in pain. When I called the nurse back, I was told to shut up as I was upsetting other patients.
I asked the nurse to call my girlfriend but she refused as it was late (about 11.30pm). I eventually found my mobile phone and called her myself. I have no memory of what happened next but I woke up the next day in intensive care with an 11" scar, about half a dozen tubes coming out of my neck, wrist and stomach. I could not move and there were things which I'd prefer not to write about in public which were extremely distressing.
It transpired that the surgeon had left a hole in my stomach and when I was given food, it was leaking into my abdominal cavity. I developed pneumonia and as a result spent 18 days in intensive care. I was administered a variety of pain relief and treated generally quite well but whenever the surgeon who had performed the original operation treated me, it was as if I was a carcass; especially when he administered a suppository and the two occasions he drew fluid from my lung.
After being discharged the day before Christmas Eve, I was unable to walk more than a few feet and it took several months before I could walk to the local shops. I was unable to work and was forced to close my business. I found eating very difficult and was going to the toilet about 40 times per day. Even now, six years later, I have residual pneumonia and have constant diarrhoea.
I was pestered by friends an relatives at the time to sue the hospital but I really didn't have the energy to do so but after much nagging I approached a solicitor who told me that I had signed a consent form prior to the operation and therefore had no right to claim compensation. Also, prior to the second operation, I had signed another consent form even though I have no memory of doing so.
But now, it has been revealed that the hospital is one of five which has 'alarmingly high death rates' and it seems to me that it is more likely that the problems I endured and am living with still were due to medical negligence.
Is it too late to make a complaint?