Unnecessary and incorrect operations as a result of clinical negligence

Misdiagnosis and false diagnosis from healthcare professionals can lead to unnecessary and incorrect operations.

There are many reports of doctors not referring patients to the correct departments for the correct treatment, or referring patients onto a department whereby operations are undertaken incorrectly.

Undertaking unnecessary and incorrect operations can be traumatic and life changing, to say the least. The consequences of clinical negligence can be long-lasting and can necessitate further operations. Many operations can lead to unnecessary scarring at the very least, which can also be factored into a clinical negligence claim.

Case study

By way of an example – albeit an extreme one – a leading breast surgeon, Ian Paterson, faces 20 counts of causing grievous bodily harm to 10 patients when he performed unnecessary breast operations. The advice he gave one patient was that, if she didn’t have a double mastectomy (the removal of both of her breasts), she would risk “full-blown cancer”. This was despite tests showing no cancerous signs, according to court documents.

Paterson denied 20 counts of wounding with intent in relation to operations he performed between 1997 and 2011. The jury were told that Paterson exaggerated the risk of cancer as a way to claim payments for more expensive procedures; essentially boosting his own pay check. It’s believed that the surgeon had “obscure motives”. Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC told the courts that Paterson wrote to insurers with a false diagnosis. It was reported that the false diagnosis was made for “no good reason whatsoever”.

Paterson was previously employed by Heart of England NHS Trust but was dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct. It was reported that he carried out “unjustified and unnecessary” mastectomy on one patient, Frances Perks, in November 2008.

As mentioned above, the false diagnosis, which led to the operation, left Perks with further issues after tissue was taken from her stomach for reconstruction. This led Perks to have further surgery that was required to put right the issues; the operation was not carried out until 4 years after the initial unnecessary operation. Thus, Perks had to go through 4 years of unnecessary trauma and stress due to Paterson’s misconduct.

Paterson’s gross misconduct also left one patient, Leanne Joseph, “devastated” when she was told that she couldn’t breastfeed post-operation.

Paterson’s solicitor defended his client’s actions saying:

“He has never pressured his patients to undergo surgery and he gave them time to make the decision before having surgery. All surgical procedures taken by him were appropriate and necessary and he denies any allegation of unnecessary surgery and he describes any suggestion that he did surgery for financial gain or for any other purpose as ‘abhorrent’.”

However, this doesn’t take into account the fact that the vast majority of people would undergo surgery when told they have a potential life threatening condition. How does his solicitor explain the fact that the vast majority of the patients undertaking surgery, didn’t in actual fact, need the surgery it seems? Because in my eyes that’s gross negligence.

How we can help

The above case demonstrates a healthcare professional undertaking life-changing procedures for “no medically justified reason”. In other cases, clinical negligence can happen ‘by accident’ or from a misdiagnosis rather victims should receive compensation to pay for the long-lasting damage they’ve suffered. .

As a result of unnecessary operations, patients can develop severe mental health problems which can also be claimed against under the psychiatric prong of damages.



The content of this post/page was considered accurate at the time of the original posting and/or at the time of any posted revision. The content of this page may, therefore, be out of date. The information contained within this page does not constitute legal advice. Any reliance you place on the information contained within this page is done so at your own risk.

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