THE TYPE OF CASE WE DO

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Damage to ureter during hysterectomy

H v Milton Keynes HA (1991)

Mrs H's ureter was enclosed in a stitch during hysterectomy causing the ureter to burst as urine could not drain to the bladder. Mrs H required surgery to repair the damage.

BREACH OF DUTY

It was Mrs H's case that it was negligent of the surgeon to fail to identify and protect her ureter during hysterectomy.

OUTCOME

The Court held that while there were instances in which damage to the ureter could occur without substandard operative technique it was Mrs H's case that given her normal anatomy (the ureter was where it might be expected to be), and the fact that the ureter was damaged at a level where it was not so close to the uterus to make protecting the ureter difficult the Court found that the damage occurred due to substandard technique.

COMMENT

This case highlights the complexity of medical negligence cases and is an example of where in some patients damage occurs due to negligence whilst in other patients very similar damage might be considered a rare but non negligent mistake. These issues require investigation by a specialist solicitor and senior specialist surgeon.