Surgeon removed ovaries without the Patient’s consent

Warrington, United Kingdom - March 6, 2016: Warrington, UK - march 6, 2016: View of the NHS (National Health Service) logo at the Springfields Medical Centre in the centre of Warrington, Cheshire.

Surgeon removed ovaries without the Patient’s consent

An NHS surgeon, Mr Tony Dixon who once helped pioneer the use of mesh in bowel surgery to treat prolapses, is now suspended from surgery. Mr Dixon is under investigation following several allegations of surgical negligence. These allegations surround the use of mesh and the issue of failing to obtain the patient’s consent to certain procedures.

BBC news reported recently that a patient of Mr Dixons (Mrs Campbell) underwent surgery for a complex procedure to include the insertion of Mesh.   This surgery was carried out by Mr Dixon at The Spire Hospital, Bristol in 2014.

Following lengthy discussions with Mr Dixon regarding the complexities of the surgery concerning both her bowel and her womb, the patient consented to undergo the procedure.

Without any known medical reason, Mr Dixon removed the Claimants ovaries during the procedure without her prior consent to do so.

Mrs Campbell had not discussed the possibility removing of her ovaries in any of the consultations with Mr Dixon prior to the surgery. When Mrs Campbell asked why her ovaries had been removed, Mr Dixon explained that they were simply ‘in the way’ and that a woman of Mrs Campbell age wouldn’t really need their ovaries. It is clear that Mrs Campbell had not consented to the removal of her ovaries and Mr Dixon’s actions could be deemed to be negligent.

Mr Dixon has recently been suspended from performing mesh rectopexy to treat bowel prolapses and from performing other corrective surgery such as stapled transanal resection of the rectum (also known as the STARR procedure.)

Whilst the mesh procedures carry known problems and complications alone, in Mrs Campbell’s case the issue appears to surround consent to the surgical procedure and the removal of her ovaries without her prior consent.

A number of cases concerning the issue of patient consent have been before the Courts in recent years.   The legal relationship between doctors and patients was explained in detail by the Supreme Court in their decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015].

In this case the Courts ruled that patients have an autonomous right to govern their own lives and make choices for themselves.  The principle of consent to medical treatment is that a patient must give permission before they undertake the treatment. To determine whether a patient has provided valid consent prior to any procedure, there are a number of factors to consider:

  1. Was the patient of sound mind?
  2. Were all forms of treatment options discussed with the patient prior to undergoing the procedure?
  3. Was the patient advised of all of the risks and benefits of each available treatment option?
  4. Was the patient provided sufficient enough time to ask questions regarding the information s/he has been provided prior to signing consent?
  5. Is the patient free from undue influence?

Without the above factors being present in such a decision, the patient cannot have fully consented to the treatment and this could give rise to a clinical negligence action.

If you or a member of your family have been affected by surgical negligence or treatment without prior consent, we encourage you to come forward and seek help from our specialist team who are on hand to provide free confidential advice.

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