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Bowel Surgery Claims

Bowel surgery may be required to treat a number of medical conditions, including bowel cancer, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Some complications that arise bowel surgery are unavoidable and are not necessarily due to negligence, however, multiple complications or a failure to identify and treat a complication can often lead to a claim.


Bowel surgery may be required if part of the bowel becomes infected due to disease. The type of bowel surgery performed will depend on the type of condition a patient has and the extent to which the bowel is affected.

Types of bowl surgery include; a total colectomy which involves removal of the colon and rectum; a sigmoid colectomy which involves removal of the part of the colon closest to the rectum and anus and a transverse colectomy which involves removal of the part of the colon that joins the left and right sides (the transverse colon).

There are risks associated with any surgery and complications may be unavoidable in bowel surgery.  Complications that may arise include leaking at the site of surgery, a perforation may occur, adhesions may develop or a post-surgical hernia could develop.

These problems often require further surgery to rectify them, which can increase the risk of infection, require additional general anaesthesia or cause further complications. Injury to the bowel during surgery is not always a sign of negligent surgical practice; however, a failure to identify and rectify an injury caused during surgery may cause a delay in treatment which could lead to further complications.

If you feel that you or a relative has been a victim of medical negligence during or immediately after bowel surgery you may have grounds for a claim.

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How do I make a bowel surgery claim

Bowel injuries suffered as a result of surgical error are fortunately relatively rare, but when they do occur, you may have the right to make a claim for the pain and suffering you have been caused.

Some patients are left requiring further surgical procedures such as colostomies, ileostomies and other stoma surgeries. Stomas require maintenance every day and lead to huge lifestyle changes particularly if they are irreversible.

Claims following complications after bowel surgery normally have to be commenced within three years of the date of the injury or date of knowledge of the injury. The first thing to do is to contact an expert law firm like Shoosmiths which specialises in this type of work. Medical negligence claims are complex and often demanding so it is important that your chosen law firm has both the expertise and established relationships with the appropriate medical experts whose evidence will be crucial to your claim.

Any NHS Trust or private hospital will have their own internal complaints process and a written complaint can be made. This may provide answers and lead to changes in process that prevent this happening to someone else.

Call us today for a free initial consultation. We can give you an objective assessment about where you stand and the options you should consider.

How long will my bowel surgery claim take

It is difficult to give a precise timescale in these cases. Some people may require additional surgery to correct problems or require a colostomy bag for life. It will be necessary to consider what future procedures and complications may arise before the full extent of the claim can be established.

We will need to obtain medical evidence from independent experts detailing how your treating doctors fell below the expected standard of care and exactly what injuries and damage you suffered as a consequence of that negligent care.

The way the other side responds to a claim for a bowel injury caused by surgery also affects timescales. An early admission can result in quicker resolution of the claim, however, this may not be possible if you have ongoing health problems as it may not be possible to accurately value your claim until your future prognosis becomes clear. If the claim is defended it will generally take longer to complete. Timescales should be provided by your legal team as your case progresses.

Whilst a claim can settle at any point in proceedings, and we actively encourage early settlement where possible, there is only one opportunity to settle the claim, so we have to ensure that all future possibilities are protected and covered in the final settlement.

On some occasions, when an early admission of liability is made, we are able to obtain an interim payment of damages to fund necessary support whilst the claim is ongoing.

If I have a bowel surgery case

Establishing whether you have a case following bowel surgery depends on establishing that a duty of care was owed to you, that the duty of care owned was breached by your treating hospital team (breach of duty) and that, as a consequence of that breach you have suffered injury or loss that otherwise would have been avoided (causation).

We must establish that you received sub-standard care and that as a consequence of that care you have suffered avoidable complications. Independent expert evidence is obtained to assist us with identifying whether the treating team were negligent. If an expert agrees you received sub-standard care and this has caused or contributed to your injury, you would have a good case for making a claim.

A bowel surgery claim may also be possible if you could not give informed consent because you were not given adequate information or warnings about the risks involved or had not been offered alternatives to surgery. In these circumstances we have to be able to demonstrate that had you been properly informed, you would not have gone ahead with the procedure. If surgery is performed in life saving circumstances, the consent process is slightly altered.

Once we have established breach of duty we then consider, on the balance of probabilities, whether your outcome would have been different with correct treatment. Independent expert evidence assists with this.

More about bowel surgery claims

Regardless of the type of bowel surgery required, it is likely to be a complex procedure demanding great skill. If negligently performed, it can lead to life-threatening and avoidable complications.
Problems associated with bowel surgery can include perforation of the bowel, infection of the wound, adhesions (which cause tissues or organs to stick together resulting in abdominal pain) and nerve damage which can lead to a loss of sensation affecting your sex life or bladder and bowel function.
An anastomotic leak can cause pain in the abdomen and require antibiotics and another operation to repair. A hernia in the line of the wound (incisional hernia) means part of the bowel protrudes through an opening in the abdominal wall, forming a bulge under the skin. Another operation may be necessary to repair the hernia or you may need to wear a support corset for life.
Shoosmiths has acted for clients with bowel injury claims where the surgery itself was negligently performed or in cases where there was delay or a failure to detect and prevent post-operative problems arising. Even before surgery is undertaken, the issue of informed consent often arises.
With such invasive and complex surgical procedures, it is essential that your surgeon explains all the potential risks involved to allow you to fully understand the options so your consent to the procedure may be truly informed.
Bowel Surgery Claims 1

Bowel Surgery Case Study - Jacqueline's Story


Bowel Surgery Case Study

Compensation for death due to complications following discharge after bowel surgery

Shoosmiths were instructed by Mrs Jacqueline Lloyd after the death of her husband, David Barry Lloyd. Mr Lloyd underwent a left hemicolectomy on 02 March 2011 for suspected bowel cancer at the New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.

Read the full story from Mrs Lloyd's bowel case by clicking here.

Substantial compensation for too difficult negligence claim

Substantial compensation for ‘too difficult’ negligence claim


Substantial compensation for negligent care and management of a perianal wound following bowel surgery.

Our client suffered for many months from a painful perianal wound following major bowel surgery. Despite the case being rejected as unlikely to succeed by five other law firms, Sumit Morjaria investigated and was able to prove negligence in our client’s treatment and care, resulting in substantial compensation for our client.

Read the full story here.


'Shoosmiths got me the rehab I needed and really helped with my family. They were fantastic throughout.'

Nicola Cooper, who suffered a serious brain injury after a seemingly trivial car accident.

Bowel Surgery Claims

Our expert lawyers at Shoosmiths have a wealth of specialist knowledge and can provide advice, support and guidance about every stage of making a successful bowel surgery claim.

Why Shoosmiths

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers