Compensation For an Operation Gone Wrong

By Stephen Moreau. Last Updated 22nd January 2024. Welcome to our guide, which answers the question of ‘I was harmed by an operation gone wrong, could I claim compensation?”

We trust doctors, surgeons and medical professionals with our health and wellbeing, but things don’t always go to plan. If you’ve been harmed by an operation gone wrong, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Claiming For An Operation Gone Wrong – Your Questions Answered

When we undergo an operation, we often do so with the expectation that we’ll be better off having done so. So when an operation goes wrong, it can be incredibly frustrating and upsetting to come to terms with. Not only this but you could be left with physical injuries that affect you for a long time. 

In order to be able to make a claim for medical negligence compensation, you need to be able to show that your condition was caused or made worse by the procedure you underwent. If you’re unsure, or you need help regarding your claim for a surgical procedure gone wrong, then we may be able to assist you.

Our expert legal advisors are on hand to answer your questions. Feel free to get in touch now to start your claim or if you need any clarification regarding the information you find in this guide.

Surgical team performing an operation

Can you claim for an operation gone wrong?

Get In Touch With Our Team

There are a number of ways that you can reach out to us:

  • You can call us on 020 3870 4868.
  • Speak to us using the live chat window in the bottom right.
  • Claim online using our website.

Services And Information

  1. What Is The Eligibility Criteria For Surgical Error Claims?
  2. What Is Surgical Negligence?
  3. Surgical Never Events
  4. Compensation Payouts For Surgery Gone Wrong
  5. What Could Cause Operations To Go Wrong?
  6. Surgery Compensation Claims – What Evidence Will I Need?
  7. No Win No Fee Surgical Error Claims
  8. Other Information

What Is The Eligibility Criteria For Surgical Error Claims?

There are eligibility requirements that must be met in order to have valid grounds to claim for medical negligence. You will need to prove that:

  •       You were owed a duty of care by a medical professional.
  •       This duty was breached.
  •       You suffered unnecessary harm as a result.

When a surgical team or hospital agrees to treat you, you are automatically owed a duty of care. Per their duty of care, they must provide you with the correct standard of care. This duty also requires that a medical professional takes reasonable care to investigate your medical history as well as the symptoms, provide an accurate diagnosis and make required referrals, amongst other items.

Operations gone wrong could arise due to a breach in this duty. However, to be eligible to make a medical negligence claim, you would need to prove that you suffered unnecessary harm due to a medical professional breaching their duty of care.

There may be certain instances where you may suffer harm during an operation, but a medical professional did not breach their duty of care. In this instance, you might not be able to make a claim.

If you have any questions about wrong surgery claims, please contact an advisor from our team. They can answer your queries about surgical error claims as well as provide a free claim assessment. They may also pass you on to a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel.

Surgery Gone Wrong – How Long Do I Have To Claim?

If you have undergone surgery that has gone wrong, and you are eligible to make a surgical negligence claim, you might be wondering how long you have to start legal proceedings. The Limitation Act 1980 states you generally have three years from the date that the medical negligence occurred to take action. However, the three years may also start from the date of knowledge, which is when you became aware that you sustained avoidable harm as a result of medical negligence.

However, some exceptions can apply. For example, for claims involving children, the time limit to claim is suspended until their 18th birthday. Additionally, if a claimant does not have the mental capacity to make a claim themselves, the limitation period is suspended indefinitely.

A litigation friend can start a claim on behalf of a minor or someone who lacks the mental capacity to claim while the time limit is paused. This could be a parent, guardian or relative. The court will appoint this position on the basis that the person acts in the interests of the claimant, as well as other factors.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are unsure whether you are within the limitation period to start a medical negligence claim for operations gone wrong. Our advisors work around the clock and can answer your questions free of charge.

What Is Surgical Negligence?

Medical negligence is when an individual receives inadequate or substandard care when receiving treatment for an injury or condition. It can result in the patient developing new symptoms, or a pre-existing condition could be made worse.

Surgical negligence is a type of medical negligence specific to surgical procedures. It refers to when an operation leaves a patient with new or worsened symptoms due to mistakes being made. These mistakes can include things like infections caused by poor hygiene, surgery performed on the wrong site or foreign objects being left inside the patient.

If the level of care you received by the surgeon performing your operation fell short of the standards expected of their occupation, then it may be considered surgical negligence. Provided that the surgical negligence resulted in you being injured, you may be able to make a claim.

Surgical Never Events

A surgical never event is a serious but largely preventable error made during surgery. Never events must always be investigated under the Serious Incidents framework. 

The NHS has provided a list of never events. These don’t just cover surgical errors; the list of never events also includes medication errors, general errors and errors in mental health care. Below, we’ve included a list of some never events that might occur in a surgical setting. 

  • Wrong-site surgery – This is where a surgical procedure is carried out on the wrong patient. It could also include a patient receiving the right treatment but at the wrong site (for example, where a knee replacement surgery is performed on the wrong knee).
  • Wrong implant/prosthesis – When an implant or prosthetic device or component is surgically implanted into the patient, that differs from the one they had agreed upon. The location of the prosthesis being implanted can also be a factor. It should be noted that there are certain circumstances where a medical professional uses their clinical judgement and alters the implant required at the time of surgery
  • Retained foreign object post-procedure – If a foreign object is left in a patient’s body in error during surgery, this is classed as a never event and is an example of surgical negligence.  If the foreign object that’s been left in your body causes you injury or harm, then you may be able to claim compensation. 

This is not a comprehensive list of surgical never events. If you feel that your health has been impacted due to an error during surgery, then get in touch with our advisors today.

Compensation Payouts For Surgery Gone Wrong

For medical negligence claims for operations gone wrong, compensation could include both general and special damages.

General damages compensate you for the harm you have suffered due to medical negligence. Below, we have created a table to help you gain a clear idea of the compensation you could receive. The amounts listed have been taken from the 16th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). We have used the JCG’s figures, as it lists compensation brackets for various injuries. It is also used by many legal experts to help them value various claims, such as surgical error claims.

Please only use this table as a guide. How much compensation you receive could be affected by the factors of your claim and may differ from the amounts listed below. Also note that the first entry in this table is an estimated figure that is not based on the JCG.

Injury Type Notes Compensation Bracket
Multiple Serious Injuries Plus Special Damages If you have valid grounds to claim for multiple serious injuries caused by an operation gone wrong, then you may receive a payout covering all of the injuries plus any related special damages, such as the cost of home care. Up to £500,000+
Moderately Severe Brain Damage Very serious disablement with a substantial dependence on others and a need for professional care. £219,070 to £282,010
Male Reproductive System A complete loss of the male reproductive organs. In excess of £153,870
Female Reproductive System Permanent sexual dysfunction in a person with no children. The higher end is applicable to cases with serious medical complication such as requiring multiple surgeries or an ectopic pregnancy. £43,010 to £102,100
Bowel Injuries (c) Passive incontinence and faecal urgency persisting after surgery. In the region of £79,920
Injuries Affecting Sight – Total Loss Of One Eye (d) Consideration given to age, cosmetic and psychiatric effect. £54,830 to £65,710
Digestive System – Damage From Traumatic Injury (a) (i) Continuing pain and discomfort due to severe damage to the digestive system. £43,010 to £61,910
Chest Injuries (c) The person suffers with a continuing disability due to the chest and lungs being damaged. £31,310 to £54,830
Kidney Injuries (c) Losing one kidney but no damage to the other. £30,770 to £44,880
Spleen Injuries (a) Loss of spleen with damage to the immune system which causes a continuing risk of internal infections. £20,800 to £26,290

Any of the financial losses you have suffered due to being harmed by medical negligence could be compensated with special damages. Some of the financial losses you could claim under special damages include:

  • Loss of earnings.
  • Travel costs.
  • Care costs.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Home adaptations – e.g., stairlift or wheelchair access.

You will need to provide evidence of these financial losses in order to claim them back under special damages. Bank statements, invoices and receipts could all be used as evidence.

Contact our advisors today if you have any questions about surgery compensation claims. Our advisors could also provide you with free legal advice and inform you whether you still have enough time to make your claim.

Surgery Compensation Claims – What Evidence Will I Need?

Surgery compensation claims can only be successfully made if sufficient evidence is provided. There are various forms of evidence that could potentially help you make a claim after your surgery has gone wrong.

This includes:

  • A letter or email that shows a medical professional failed to warn you about a potential risk of your surgery
  • Medical notes which can show they failed to take a required action
  • Witness statements if someone can corroborate the suffering you experienced

You can then present evidence to support a claim for any financial losses you are claiming for. People who have suffered from surgery operations that have gone wrong could need financial help because of:

  • Lost income
  • Treatment or care costs
  • Adaptations to help them cope with the acquired injury

Your losses will be unique to you but these are examples of financial losses that can feature in a claim for compensation. Supporting evidence can come in the form of receipts, payslips or medical recommendations for aids.

As mentioned, a No Win No Fee solicitor could help you with collecting and maintaining evidence for your claim.

No Win No Fee Surgical Error Claims

If you’re eligible to start a medical negligence claim for an operation gone wrong, then you could contact our advisors for free about reviewing your case. If they determine you have a strong case, they could then connect you with an expert No Win No Fee surgical negligence solicitor from our panel.

Our panel of experienced solicitors can represent you in a medical negligence claim under a type of No Win No Fee agreement called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). The benefits of this type of arrangement is that you won’t have to pay your solicitor for their services either upfront or while your claim is being processed. Another benefit is that if your claim goes ahead but is unsuccessful, you still won’t need to pay your solicitor for their services.

If your claim is a success, then your solicitor normally takes a success fee, which is a small, legally capped percentage of your compensation.

To find out how a No Win No Fee solicitor can represent you in your operation gone wrong claim, get in touch with our advisors today for free. To do so, you can:

  • Call us on 020 3870 4868.
  • Or you can use our 24/7 live chat.

Other Information Relating To Claims For An Operation Gone Wrong

We have assembled some additional reading material for you to better understand this kind of claim.

    1. NHS data regarding never events.
    2. 2018/2019 NHS annual resolution report .
    3. Government advice regarding making a claim against the NHS.
    4. More from us regarding medical negligence claims.
    5. A general guide to personal injury claims.
    6. Making a claim on behalf of someone else.

Other Useful Compensation Guides

Thank you for reading our claims guide for an operation gone wrong. We hope it has been helpful to you.