Biggleswade mum wins compensation after botched operation at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital

Tracy Smith. Picture: Fletchers Solicitors

Tracy Smith. Picture: Fletchers Solicitors - Credit: Archant

A Biggleswade mum-of-two was left in crippling pain and struggled to walk for 19 days after a doctor lost a stent in her body during an operation.

Tracy Smith, 54, was told the stent – a small mesh tube used to keep passageways around the body open – was mistakenly lodged in her pancreas rather than placed in her liver during a procedure to remove gallstones.

It was another three weeks before it was possible to find and remove the stent.

The ordeal began in January last year when an ultrasound scan at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital revealed the gallstones.

During an emergency ERCP test – involving the insertion of an endoscope tube down her throat to check the position of the stones and remove them – the doctor tried to place a stent in her liver to open it and let the stones move into her intestine, where they would be easier to remove.

But medication to sedate Tracy failed to take effect, and she started to struggle and retch due to the tube in her throat.

The doctor tried to continue, but lost the stent – which became lodged in her pancreas.

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Tracy said: “I was awake during the process as the sedation didn’t work properly, and I could feel the tube down my throat. I couldn’t help retching, but the doctor seems to think I was doing it on purpose and was telling me off.”

Lister lacked the capabilities to remove the stent, so the gallstones remained in Tracy’s liver. She was sent home, and days later began suffering excruciating pain that left her unable to walk or move.

This worsened to the extent that she could not feed herself properly or go to the toilet without help. She was rushed back to the Lister, where she remained for almost a week.

Eventually, in February last year, surgeons at University College London Hospital removed the stent and the gallstones – four weeks after Tracy initially went into hospital.

Tracy said: “I was in so much pain, and it was incredibly frustrating being told that there was little that could be done for me for weeks, despite it being the doctor’s error that had made my condition worse.”

Tracy has since won £8,000 in compensation after bringing a claim against the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which operates the Stevenage hospital.

A spokesman for the Trust said: “The Trust’s staff pride themselves on providing high-quality care to our patients, which is why we are sorry Ms Smith experienced problems following her procedure.

“A thorough complaint investigation was carried so that the Trust can learn from Ms Smith’s experience. We are pleased that Ms Smith’s claim is now settled and wish her well for the future.”