Surgeon’s mistake led to man’s death

Lincoln Cathedral Centre G110927-4c
Lincoln Cathedral Centre G110927-4c

A MISTAKE by a surgeon during a complex operation led to the death of a man, an inquest was told last week.

Philip Bell, 56, of Eastfield, Sturton-by-Stow, underwent an operation at Lincoln County Hospital to remove a damaged kidney during which surgeon Haradiker Varadaraj mistakenly tied up his main artery.

The tie remained in place after the operation with the mistake only being discovered the following day when Mr Bell was unable to move his legs which had become paralysed. A CT scan revealed a ligature on his abdominal aorta which was blocking the flow of blood to his lower limbs and to his colon.

The inquest at Lincoln Cathedral Centre heard that although the ligature was removed, Mr Bell continued to deteriorate and he subsequently passed away in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

The cause of death was multi organ failure with a subsidiary cause being the ligature on the aorta.

Dr Varadaraj told the inquest that he attempted to remove the kidney through keyhole surgery, but after 90 minutes decided it was too difficult and switched to open surgery with the whole procedure taking over six hours. Mr Bell suffered heavy bleeding losing five litres of blood.

He said the removal was complicated by a build-up of fibrous material around a tumour on the kidney. In addition Mr Bell had a very narrow aorta. He said he intended to tie the renal artery and not the aorta but made an error.

The experienced surgeon apologised to Mr Bell’s family for leaving the ligature around the aorta, saying: “I’m really sorry. It was my mistake. I wish I could turn back time.”

“I have strived to look after Mr Bell in the best possible way as I do with all my patients. No matter how much I apologise I cannot bring him back.”

Consultant Duncan Harriss, of the Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, who carried out a review of Mr Bell’s death, said: “The surgical error that caused this has occurred due to the tumour and the mature of the anatomy rather than incompetent or sub-standard surgery.”

West Lincolnshire Coroner Stuart Fisher recorded a narrative verdict on Mr Bell, who died on 1st October 2011. “This was an extremely rare vascular complication in open kidney surgery,” he said.

Afterwards, Mr Bell’s widow Ann-Marie Bell said: “I don’t blame anyone for what happened. It was an unusually complicated operation.”