Prominent Canberra obstetrician and gynaecologist Andrew Foote failed in his duty of care to a woman who was injured when the medico operated on her in 2004, a Supreme Court judge has ruled.
In a judgment published yesterday, acting Justice Margaret Sidis found that Susan Virginia Dixon should be awarded $140,000 in general damages from Dr Foote, who is president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The final amount of costs to be awarded to Mrs Dixon will be determined at a later date.
In September 2004, Dr Foote performed surgery on Mrs Dixon, which included an abdominal hysterectomy and treatment for the breakdown of a mesh sling that provided support following the prolapse of her uterus.
Mrs Dixon's right ureter was damaged during the surgery, causing urine to leak.
She required further surgery to reimplant the ureter and was treated in the intensive care unit of Calvary Hospital.
She subsequently underwent surgery for a fistula and required other treatment.
Acting Justice Sidis found that Dr Foote failed to exercise reasonable care and skill in advising Mrs Dixon to proceed with the hysterectomy and another procedure known as a sacral colpopexy.
Acting Justice Sidis found Dr Foote failed to take steps described by experts as standard medical practice to identify the ureter at the time of surgery and to check for injury after the surgery.
She also found that Dr Foot caused thickness damage to the wall of the bladder and failed after the surgery to recognise that further investigations were necessary.
''I find the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care and skill post-operatively in failing to recognise that investigations were necessary to confirm or negative his diagnosis in circumstances where he was confused and where the plaintiff's condition was deteriorating,'' acting Justice Sidis said.
In his evidence, Dr Foote denied that he was negligent in the advice or treatment that he provided to Mrs Dixon.
He said he would not have discussed the option of total abdominal hysterectomy with Mrs Dixon if there was no evidence of prolapse.
He said that during the surgery he had palpated the position of the ureters and was satisfied they were clear of where he proposed to apply a clamp.
Dr Foote rejected the proposition that he caused full thickness damage to the wall of the bladder.
Acting Justice Sidis found some of the evidence Dr Foote presented to the court to be unreliable.
She also found Dr Foote lied when he suggested to Mrs Dixon that she had had an s-bend or abnormality in her ureter.
''I concluded that the defendant lied to the plaintiff in his contention that she suffered from some pre-existing condition with a view to averting any claim she might bring as a result of the unfortunate outcome of the surgery,'' acting Justice Sidis said.
Since the surgery, Mrs Dixon had suffered from bowel obstructions and had unsightly abdominal scarring and swelling.
Despite having a family history of bowel cancer, she had been advised that she should not undergo colonoscopies.
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