Eastbourne District General Hospital has apologised to the family of a 35-year-old mother who died after a surgeon cut the wrong blood vessels to remove a potentially cancerous tumour which turned out to be benign.
Nicole Haynes, of Sunset Close in Pevensey Bay, died on March 29 2012 at Kings College Hospital after keyhole surgery at the DGH on March 27 to remove a tumour from her adrenal gland.
An inquest into her death was held by coroner Alan Craze at Eastbourne Town Hall last Wednesday (November 26).
Mr Craze was told Mrs Haynes had suffered from breast cancer in 2011 and it was felt it was best to remove the lump on the glands near her kidneys in case it was malignant.
Mrs Haynes was admitted for the operation in March and the surgery was carried out by Steve Garnett, urological surgeon at Eastbourne DGH, the inquest heard.
He explained complications were ‘rare’.
However, Mr Garnett made a catastrophic mistake and cut and clamped the blood vessels to the gut instead of those to the adrenal gland, the inquest heard.
The coroner heard how the fatal error was not discovered by staff straightaway, until Mrs Haynes’ condition started to worsen in the hours after the surgery.
Mr Garnett, who was assisted by urologist Mr Bourghli throughout the operation, said he felt the surgery had gone well at the time.
He told Mr Craze: “What actually happened was that I misidentified the blood vessels to the adrenal gland.
“I clamped the wrong blood vessels.
“I clamped the vessels that supply the gut and the liver.”
Mrs Haynes had to be sent to The Conquest in Hastings for a CT scan because the equipment at Eastbourne was broken.
She was then sent in an ambulance for emergency surgery at Kings College London.
Professor Nigel Heaton carried out the surgery but was unable to save Mrs Haynes, the inquest heard.
He explained that even if he had of seen her the day before she would most likely have died.
Mr Craze recorded a verdict of surgical accident.
Speaking after the inquest, the family’s solicitor described it as a ‘tragic catalogue of events’.
The hospital trust issued an unreserved apology.