I read in the news that a “foreign object left in patient after operation” resulted in compensation being awarded. I had to have emergency surgery after a severe infection was caused by a sponge left inside my abdomen after my appendix was removed. Can I claim compensation as well?
A foreign object left in patient is one of the clearest cases of medical negligence. Negligence of the surgeon or assisting staff has directly resulted in an injury; in this case an infection which has been caused by a foreign body left in a patient after an operation. However, your eligibility to claim compensation for this mistake may be in danger of being time-barred. There is a statute of limitations for any personal injury compensation claim which prevents claims being made if they are not initiated within the correct legal timeframe.
The statute of limitations applies a 3-year time limit from the date that the injury was sustained, or the date of knowledge that there was a problem. In this case, the three year time limit would have commenced from the date when the foreign object was discovered, or from the onset of symptoms which led to the second operation. If you have only just realised that you can potentially make a claim, and this happened more than 3 years ago, you would need a medical negligence solicitor to present your case to a judge to ask that the timescale for claiming be extended.
There are exceptions to the statute of limitations and the three year time limit. If for instance, you were under the age of 18 when you found out about the foreign object was left inside your body, the limitation law is applied differently. The time period would commence from the date of your 18th birthday, allowing you until your 21st birthday to initiate a claim for surgical error compensation.
We advise you to consult a medical negligence solicitor immediately for advice, to ensure that a claim can be initiated before the time period elapses. A judge may not rule for an extension to this time frame if there are not valid mitigating circumstances which prevented your claim from being made within the appropriate legal time scale.