Gynaecology Negligence and Chronic Pelvic Pain Cases

Why Engage an Expert Witness in Gynaecology Negligence and Chronic Pelvic Pain Cases?

For many women, pelvic pain can be persistent, extremely uncomfortable, and in some cases, debilitating, and it may become worse without appropriate medical care. GPs, gynaecologists, and other health professionals play a key role in referring, diagnosing and providing the necessary treatment for patients presenting with pelvic pain, as symptoms of this type can suggest a serious underlying condition. While most gynaecologists and women’s health specialists are extremely diligent and professional, the quality of care provided by some may fall below the standard expected. In this article, we will discuss the important role that expert gynaecology witnesses can play in achieving a successful outcome in cases related to clinical negligence, including where the cause of pelvic pain has not been diagnosed or has been incorrectly diagnosed.

Gynaecology Negligence and Chronic Pelvic Pain

What is chronic pelvic pain?

Chronic pelvic pain is typically characterised by discomfort below the belly button and between the hips that has been ongoing for six or more months. According to the NHS, symptoms of pelvic pain can include:

  • a sharp, stabbing or burning pain
  • a pain that comes on slowly but does not go away
  • a dull or heavy ache, or feeling of pressure
  • a twisted or knotted feeling
  • a cramping or throbbing pain, which may come and go
  • pain during exercise, having sex, or while urinating

What are the most common causes of pelvic pain?

Pelvic pain has a wide range of potential causes, some of which are common and easily managed, and others that can be serious if not spotted and dealt with as early as possible. Pelvic pain may be caused by:

  • Birth injury
  • Cancer (e.g. ovarian cancer and uterine cancer)
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Endometriosis
  • Injury caused during surgery
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Period pain
  • Peritonitis
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Unfortunately, where the cause of pelvic pain is not identified and treated in a timely manner, the implications may be significant and debilitating. For example:

If not diagnosed, endometriosis may require extensive surgery and can lead to infertility. For this reason, based on the NICE guidelines, a patient presenting with severe, persistent or recurrent symptoms of endometriosis, pelvic signs of endometriosis, or where initial management is not effective should be referred to a gynaecologist.

Ovarian cysts, a common cause of chronic pelvic pain, can cause significant discomfort, bloating and irregular periods.

Other conditions such as ectopic pregnancy and cancer, if not spotted quickly, can be life-threatening. Where a patient is suspected of having cancer, they are supposed to:

  • Be urgently referred and seen by a specialist within two weeks
  • Diagnosed no more than 28 days after referral
  • Start receiving treatment within 62 days of receipt of the referral or 31 days from the date when they agreed on a treatment plan with their doctor

Once a patient is referred with a suspected ovarian, uterine, or another type of cancer, gynaecologists, are supposed to carry out and review the results of a prescribed set of tests, including a physical examination, CT scans, ultrasound, and blood tests for signs of tumour markers, to arrive at a diagnosis and then recommend the most suitable treatment. Any delays in referral, diagnosis or treatment can lead to poorer clinical outcomes.

The role of expert witnesses in pelvic pain negligence cases

Expert witnesses, including gynaecologists and general practitioners, who provide expert evidence in chronic pelvic conditions are often instructed in gynaecology clinical negligence cases to consider breach of duty, cause and prognosis, and quantum. Determining whether negligence has occurred and the likely impact of the negligent act is part of the process. As with all clinical negligence cases, it must be proven that a doctor owed the patient a duty of care, the patient suffered harm to their health, and the negligence of the doctor caused the harm. Unfortunately, it is not always immediately apparent that negligence occurred, especially if many months or even years have passed since the patient was seen and when the condition or disease became apparent. Expert witnesses specialising in gynaecology cases understand the signs and symptoms that should have led to a referral, the clinical diagnostic indicators that should have led to a diagnosis, the correct process of treatment, and the waiting times.

By gathering all of the available evidence, including the initial referral, discharge notes, scans, blood results, and any other clinical notes, they will assess if the standard of care fell below that expected at any point during the patient’s treatment. They will also look at the prognosis, likelihood of recovery, and further treatment needed, in addition to any costs and future care needs. This information is then collated, analysed, and summarised in the form of an expert witness report.

How Expert Court Reports Ltd can assist with your case

The impact of chronic pelvic pain is often misunderstood and underestimated. The reality is that chronic pelvic pain, if not handled in a timely and effective manner, can cause patients to suffer significantly, leading to time off work, depression, serious illness and disease, and can be life-threatening. If your client has suffered an adverse health outcome due to clinical negligence after experiencing pelvic pain and is now seeking compensation, an expert witness specialising in gynaecology will ensure they achieve the best possible outcome.

Please call us on 01865 587865, email office@expertcourtreports.co.uk, or request a call by completing our online form to find out more about our gynaecology expert witnesses and reports.