Patient Claim Line’s Litigation Executive, Amy Hughes reflects on the quality of life many women have following negligent surgery and the importance of understanding all the available treatments.
If you find yourself in need of an operation, you place your faith in the hands of a surgeon, who you hope has your best interests at heart and who will restore your health with their expertise. If you need bowel surgery, you will want to regain the confidence and independence you may have lost during your illness.
Former surgeon, Anthony Dixon was dismissed in 2017 after multiple clinical negligence cases were put against him.
Mr Dixon, who operated under the North Bristol NHS Trust and Spire Bristol Hospital, carried out surgery that wasn’t required on hundreds of people.
Mr Dixon is now facing legal action by over 156 women who claim that he was too quick to use mesh to repair prolapsed bowels.
Alternative, conservative medical treatment should always be available
Unfortunately, I have already witnessed the physical and emotional trauma that Mr Dixon has put several women and their families through. Thankfully, I have been able to help a number of those women.
What I have learnt from my experiences is that Mr Dixon is quick to recommend surgery for his patients without considering or exploring conservative treatment first.
These people are then undergoing major life changing surgery when it could have been avoided and are left with life changing symptoms and bowel habits.
People were putting their faith and trust in this man and simply went along with his advice as they did not know anything different.
Chillingly, I have heard from several of Mr Dixon’s former patients that, when they had returned to him with post-operative complaints, Mr Dixon told them:
“I bet you wish you didn’t come to see me now”.
This sticks with me, and I am sure it sticks with those whose lives he turned upside down.
Identifying trends in Dixon’s negligent surgeries
I have identified trends with Mr Dixon’s treatment, and I am fortunate enough to have the knowledge and experience to be able help others who have been subjected to his treatment and desire to proceed to surgery.
In many cases, surgery may not have been required in the first place.
Last year the BBC reported that 57 Southmead Hospital patients, many of whom were patients of Mr Dixon, ‘should have been offered alternative treatment first.’
To this day, dozens of women have fallen victim to Mr Dixon’s surgeries and do not know if the experience was completely necessary. Some of these women are wives, mothers and grandmothers and so it is easy to see how the impact of his actions can reach far beyond the injured party.
Consequently, several of the women Mr Dixon operated on maintain that the operations have left them with stressful, life-altering complications, one of the biggest being a huge change in bowel habits and having to centre one’s life around them.
Some people have even been left with having to deal with a stoma bag for the rest of their life.
In addition, there is now enough legal evidence to suggest that alternative courses of action were not recommended ahead of invasive surgery.
Repairing the damage – life after serious injury and medical negligence
Finally, Mr Dixon also failed to appropriately explain the potential risks involved with the surgeries.
Following Mr Dixon’s suspension from surgeries in 2017, North Bristol NHS Trust have been reviewing all cases of surgery performed by Mr Dixon at Southmead Hospital to identify whether they were in fact ever warranted.
Letters are being sent out to patients to confirm this. Furthermore, any cases where an operation has been identified as not warranted, patients are receiving apologies on behalf of the Trust.
The surgeries carried out privately at Spire are not being reviewed by the NHS at present.
From experience, I know that it is paramount that surgeons meticulously run through all potential risks, no matter how unlikely with a patient.
It is important that patients are provided with enough information about the risks and benefits of any surgery to enable them to make an informed decision before consenting to it as per the case of Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board .
The number of cases against Mr Dixon has risen such that the NHS has created a protocol to deal with these claims.
In conclusion, Mr Dixon is a name many women will not be able to forget. However, I am hopeful enough awareness will be raised to enable people to realise how serious a decision to proceed to major surgery is.
At Patient Claim Line, we are continually building a portfolio of understanding, empathy and legal expertise that will go toe to toe and hold those carrying out surgical negligence to account.
If you have experienced any type of medical negligence in Bristol, we have some of the highest-rated medical negligence solicitors in Bristol that can help you through your claims process.