Medical Negligence

Hospital Trust pays compensation to woman after doctors left cyst to grow to size of football during her pregnancy


Helena Wood

Team Leader & Associate Chartered Legal Executive

7 min read time

A Hospital Trust has agreed a damages settlement of £15,000 with a patient after doctors allowed a cyst to grow to the size of a football during her pregnancy.

It led to mum-to-be Francesca Tomlinson needing an emergency operation as the cyst leaked into her stomach and pressed against her unborn baby.

Ms Tomlinson was rushed to hospital in agony and struggling for breath after the cyst – which weighed 8lb and 9oz (more than many babies at birth) – twisted around her ovary twice, crushing her diaphragm and moving her bowels out of place.

This came despite doctors being aware of the cyst’s presence and rapid growth, and monitoring it for two months. Her baby, Gracie-Jane, now three, was thankfully unharmed and born healthy and the cyst was found not to have any cancerous cells.

However, Ms Tomlinson, who was 22 at the time, had to have have her right ovary and fallopian tube removed after the operation, and with her other ovary having been pulled by the cyst, she and her partner were warned she may not be able to have more children.

She and her partner David go on to have a second child though, Amelia-Rose, who is now two-and-a-half.

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Compensation claim through Hudgell Solicitors resulted in £15,000 damages settlement

Following a legal case against it through medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Mary’s Hospital where Ms Tomlinson was under care, has now agreed to the damages settlement.

The legal case alleged a clear plan to manage the cyst should have been put in place, and that the cyst should have been drained in early pregnancy to prevent it from twisting and causing complications.

Our lawyer said:

This was shocking treatment and a complete failure to treat our client in the appropriate way. It ended with her being rushed into hospital for an emergency operation which was completely avoidable.

A clear plan to manage the cyst should have been put in place from the very onset after it was first discovered, yet when Ms Tomlinson went for a second scan, no record of the cyst’s development was even recorded.

Had the cyst been diagnosed as being benign early on, action could have been taken much earlier to drain it and avoid the high risk of it twisting around the ovary.

She was left with a scar from the bottom of her tummy to just over her belly button. She also had the extra worry over her baby’s health, and the first thing she asked when she came around after the operation was whether her baby was still ok as she’d been told there was a risk she would lose her child.

Francesca should have been offered ultrasound guided drainage to drain the cyst to a manageable size early in the treatment. Had this happened she would have had an uneventful pregnancy and then the cyst could have been removed.

It was our opinion that medical professionals should never have let the cyst get to such a size where the emergency laparotomy was needed to remove it.

Due to its size our client has now been left with a bigger scar from the incision than would have been the case had she had the treatment to drain it and then the laparoscopy after her baby was born. She also had to have her right ovary and fallopian tube removed, suffered from an infection, and bile damage to her stomach.

We are glad that the Trust has now offered this damages settlement, which Ms Tomlinson has accepted, and obviously we were delighted that not only was Gracie-Jane unharmed, but also that she and her partner David went on to have another daughter, Amelia-Rose.

I am sure Francesca would also have liked an apology for what she went through, and admissions of errors from those involved, but hopefully the damages settlement goes some way to compensate for her pain and suffering.

Patient trusted doctors to manage the cyst appropriately

Ms Tomlinson said she had trusted specialists to manage the cyst properly after it had first been spotted.

They were aware of the cyst’s presence on my ovary from the start and I was just told that it would be monitored and that it could need removing at some stage, but no action was taken and I just trusted them to get it right because they are the professionals.

I’m not one really for Googling things as I know you more often than not find something which is not right and just scares you with the worst case scenario which usually isn’t accurate, but I was aware of the danger of a cyst twisting from what I’d read.

I was often in really bad pain, but when I went to the hospital I was just given painkillers and sent away, so much so that I stopped going in after a while because I knew I’d just be sent home. However, when I was 13 weeks pregnant I looked like I was full-term.

On the morning of her emergency admission to the hospital, she says the pain was ‘excruciating’ and that she ‘collapsed on the floor by the sofa’, calling her mother for help, who called an ambulance.

I could hardly breathe and my first thoughts were that I was going to lose my baby.

I have quite a good pain threshold but it was absolute agony, so much so that I couldn’t talk. When the ambulance arrived they asked me where I would like to go, to either St Mary’s Hospital , where I’d been treated throughout my pregnancy, or Tameside General Hospital, which I decided to go to having been sent away so many times by St Mary’s.

When I got there and saw the consultant he said there was no need to scan me and that he could tell I needed an operation immediately. They couldn’t understand why the cyst hadn’t been drained, and even then they couldn’t find details of it in my medical notes.

After the operation I was just relieved to know that my baby was unharmed, and thankfully she was born healthy, even though she was six weeks premature when she arrived.

The cyst had first been spotted at a scan on October 8, 2012, with a sonographer describing it as ‘very large’ and measuring approximately 18cm at the time.

An appointment was made a week later to check her baby’s health and the cyst’s growth, and although medical records showed the baby’s heartbeat was fine, no record was made of the checks on the cyst’s development.

Ms Tomlinson suffered regular pains in her stomach as a result of the cyst, but these became worse and led to her being admitted to A&E at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester on November 22, 2012, where an ultrasound again showed her baby to be healthy, but that the cyst at that time measured around 21cm and was ‘extremely large.

She was sent home and told that the cyst would be continually assessed by regular scans to check how fast it was growing, and that should it reach 26cm in size, an operation would be required.

When she was rushed to hospital on December 8, she was warned upon admission that her baby had been left with no room to move and that an emergency operation to cut open the stomach area and remove the cyst was required.

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