A British woman has accused her doctor of leaving her infertile after he had unintentionally removed her healthy fallopian tube during surgery.
Twenty-seven-year-old Chelsie Thomas was taken to the West Midlands' Walsall Manor hospital after suffering an ectopic pregnancy last year. She was recommended surgery to address the issue in her fallopian tube.
An ectopic pregnancy is a condition where a fertilized egg attaches itself in a part of a woman's womb other than inside her uterus, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Almost all cases occur in the fallopian tube, but since the appendages were not meant to hold growing embryos, the fertilized egg will not be able develop properly and will require surgery to address.
However, during Thomas' procedure, the surgeon had mistakenly removed her healthy left fallopian tube instead of the right one that was problematic. He did not inform her know about the error until a few days later.
"The next day, the doctor came into my room and said everything was fine," the patient said.
A week after the surgery, the doctor called Thomas to tell her that she needs to go back to the hospital because he had removed the wrong fallopian tube by mistake.
Thomas recounted that she was more in shock regarding the discovery than anything.
She said she went back to Walsall Manor to have herself rescanned. When the doctor detected a heartbeat during the diagnostic, he was said to have passed out.
"I walked out of the room, I was in shock and I couldn't breathe," Thomas said.
"I refused to let him take me back to the theatre. I didn't want him anywhere near me."
Coping With The Surgical Mistake
Walsall Manor assigned a different doctor to Thomas to address the surgery error. She was taken back to the operating room the following morning. She had to spend three more days to recover in the hospital, where she had also worked as healthcare assistant for nine years.
Thomas said the doctor's mistake has ruined her life. She was informed that she will never be able to bear children again unless with the help of IVF treatment.
She and her partner separated after their relationship broke down following the surgery. She also lost her job, which she needed to support her six-year-old son.
Thomas shared that she has been diagnosed with depression. She is now undergoing antidepressant treatment to help her cope with the emotional trauma brought on by the experience.
As she grows older, she said she will still have to deal with the fact that she will not be able to conceive a child again. She is also facing some financial troubles due to her current situation.
The Hospital's Liability
Kathryn Salt, a solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell and Thomas' legal counsel, explained that the trust that oversees Walsall Manor has already admitted liability for the incident early on. It now allows them to focus on finding out how the hospital can support her client's needs.
She said the removal of Thomas' healthy fallopian tube is what can be classified as a "never event," but it still happened, unfortunately. The experience has had a significant impact on the patient's life, both "physically and emotionally."
Walsall Healthcare NHS trust, the organization that operates Walsall Manor, has reached out to Thomas regarding the incident.
The trust's medical director, Dr. Matthew Lewis, has offered an apology to the patient for the hospital's care falling below standards expected of it.
In Thomas' case, Lewis said necessary checks were conducted prior to the surgery and consent was given, but the surgical mistake still occurred.
He reiterated that Walsall Healthcare NHS trust investigates medical errors in the hospital thoroughly in accordance with its internal governance processes.
They work together with patients, their families, and the hospital's own doctors and staff to learn important lessons and to place systems that would help avoid such mistakes in the future.