Can you sue for an unnecessary hysterectomy?

There is debate about which conditions need hysterectomy surgery. Some believe heavy periods, pelvic pain, or conditions such as endometriosis can be reason enough. Others believe only cancer requires the procedure.

In most cases, surgery is a final option.

Medical advice in the UK highlights the importance of assessing a condition’s impact on a patient’s life before deciding to undergo an operation as serious as a hysterectomy. This encompasses:

  • how the condition affects their ‘quality of life’
  • the symptoms being experienced
  • the availability or suitability of other forms of treatment.

The decision will be different for each individual. Patients should consult with their doctor and be offered all necessary information by a medical professional before undergoing surgery.

Patient speaking to a doctor about hysterectomy surgery

Reasons for hysterectomy claims

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis

Some hysterectomy claims arise due to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis: where a GP or medical professional could have been reasonably expected to diagnose an illness at an earlier stage. In these cases, it may have been possible to pursue a different course of treatment.

There are also different types of hysterectomy, each with their own sets of risks and aftereffects. In some cases, a doctor or surgeon may have incorrectly advised the need for a total hysterectomy, (removal of the cervix as well as the uterus) where only the uterus (womb) needed to be removed.

Many who have not yet gone through the menopause are advised to keep their ovaries if they show no sign of disease, even in the event of a hysterectomy. This is due to ovaries producing certain female hormones which protect against health problems such as osteoporosis.

If your ovaries were unnecessarily removed during a hysterectomy due to a misdiagnosis, this could be cause for a claim.

Failure to offer non-surgical treatment

A surgical procedure should only be considered if other treatment options have been unsuccessful.

If a hysterectomy has been performed without suitable consideration for alternative treatments, particularly non-invasive procedures, this could contribute to a wrongful hysterectomy case.

Informed consent should be obtained before a hysterectomy – in this case, explaining the risks of the procedure fully. If you do not feel this was true in your case, you may not have given full consent to treatment. This can be classed as medical negligence.

Patient signing a medical consent form prior to hysterectomy surgery

Can a doctor perform a hysterectomy without consent?

There may be rare circumstances where it is not possible to give informed consent. If a life-threatening diagnosis is discovered while a patient is unconscious, the procedure may need to be carried out immediately.

Before such procedures, you will usually be asked to give consent to treatment, for circumstances where previously unknown issues are identified. Each situation will require assessment and evaluation to decide whether there was another possible course of action.

The hysterectomy negligence claims process

Complications from an unnecessary hysterectomy may not be immediately apparent. Loss of fertility or internal issues may take months or even years to emerge. Once medical negligence occurs, or you become aware of negligence, you must begin the claims process within three years.

Before taking legal action, you must gather evidence of negligence and its effects and consult with an experienced medical negligence solicitor.

Deciding whether a hysterectomy was necessary

Evidence can include:

  • medical records
  • images of symptoms or recovery
  • second opinions from other medical professionals
  • witness accounts

If there is proof of negligence – whether a lack of informed consent, not correctly diagnosing in time, or failure to explore alternative treatments – your solicitor will advise you on how to proceed.

Proving pain and suffering after medical negligence

After an unnecessary hysterectomy, general damages may be awarded for:

  • pain and suffering
  • emotional trauma following surgery
  • whether your enjoyment of activities previously undertaken suffered after surgery.
Calendar depicting the limited time available for a hysterectomy surgical negligence claim

Compensation for a wrongful hysterectomy

Compensation awarded for an unnecessary hysterectomy claim will vary according to each claimant’s circumstances, depending on the level of damage and negligence proven.

Besides pain and suffering, you may also be considered for compensation known as ‘special damages’ to reimburse costs such as:

  • aftercare or assistance costs
  • costs of home adaptation
  • medication costs
  • fees for travelling to and from medical appointments
  • loss of earnings and potential earnings or promotion at work.

You will need to provide financial records as evidence of monetary loss.

Making a claim for an unnecessary hysterectomy

If you believe you have received surgery for an unnecessary hysterectomy, it’s important to reach out to a professional for advice.

At Devonshires Claims, our experienced gynaecological and pregnancy claims solicitors are able to help assess your case, and guide you through the process of making a compensation claim.

For a free case evaluation and more information on our ‘no win, no fee’ claims service, get in touch with our knowledgeable, understanding and discreet medical negligence experts today.

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If you're considering legal action, then lets talk. We can discuss your circumstances and provide you with a free case evaluation to help you determine whether a claim is the best course of action.

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