WA Personal Injury from Failed Medical Device - What to Do?

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18 December 2014
I went to hospital to have a lap band removed. It should have been a simple half hour operation. The device that cauterizes and seals a blood vessel failed. When in recovery the anethestist noticed my blood pressure dropping. He and the ICU Dr couldn't find my veins so had to go through my central neck vessel to start pumping in blood. I was taken back into surgery and 5 litres of blood removed from my abdominal cavity. My spleen was reoved. I went back into recovery. Was still bleeding so taken back into surgery and another 3 litres of blood given to me along with a $50000 synthetic coagulant. I was in a coma for a couple of days and my family told I could possibly suffer kidney, liver or brain damage. I spent 4 days in ICU and 3 days in ward. Because I have no spleen now, I have to have regular immunisations which are expensive. I also have a huge scar on my stomach.

As well as the physical personal injury, I was also psychologically upset and so were my family. The surgeon has sent the device and film footage of the operation to the responsible company in USA but so far I haven't heard anything from them. Not even an apology! The surgeon says we should hear within 6 months.

What should I do? Am I entitled to compensation?

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi JackieEd,

That's extremely unfortunate and it must have been a terrible ordeal for you and your family!

As far as action is concerned, you may have an action in medical negligence if the doctors were negligent in how they responded in the situation. However, given that it was equipment failure and not human error, your action would be against the manufacturers of the equipment. Given the risk involved with surgeries (including risk of equipment failure) and working with equipment that are bound to fail one day, your case would be a difficult one to argue. I strongly suggest consulting a medical negligence lawyer for their advice.

It may be better to settle privately with the hospital and/or manufacturers.