London NHS trust apologises after woman suffers severe damage during coil removal
A London NHS Trust has apologised after a woman suffered potentially life-threatening damage to her bowel and womb during an unsuccessful attempt to remove her contraceptive coil.
Beki Reilly, 34, underwent emergency surgery following several attempts to remove her device during two appointments with sexual health services in Wandsworth.
During her first appointment with Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust on June 25, 2021, staff tried three times to remove the device using Hartmann’s forceps.
At the subsequent appointment, Ms Reilly was seen by a doctor. Anaesthetic gel was administered and Hartmann’s forceps used again to try and remove the coil.
Ms Reilly eventually stopped the procedure from going ahead after she developed “excruciating” pain.
“A few hours after I left the clinic my tummy pain had become so severe I couldn’t stand up straight and I started to vomit uncontrollably,” she said.
She was admitted to hospital on July 9, 2021 following phone calls with a GP and sexual health workers. Her condition deteriorated and she underwent emergency surgery three days later to remove her coil.
During the procedure, doctors found her bowel and womb had been perforated and she required emergency surgery to repair the tear. Ms Reilly spent a further eight days in hospital with limited mobility and extreme vomiting.
She said: “I woke up in ICU with my entire tummy stapled together. I had tubes coming out of my nose, my tummy and I was hooked up to monitors. My heart rate was through the roof. I was told that had I been older or had an underlying health condition, I wouldn’t have survived. I lost it and broke down in tears.”
Ms Reilly, from Merton, spent four months off work while she recovered and has since undergone trauma-based cognitive behavioural therapy to process the incident.
She underwent further surgery in July 2022 to repair hernias and muscle separation, following which she was signed off work for a further three months.
Ms Reilly went on: “Although I’m grateful to be alive, this has really impacted my self-esteem, my relationship with my body and my anxiety. I’ve been through a terrible ordeal and I’ll always be left with this huge scar and disfigured tummy. I just want my life and my body back.”
Through NHS Resolution, which resolves disputes, the Trust admitted that it failed to use Hartmann’s forceps with due care and as a result caused Beki’s perforated bowel.
Dr John Rochford, Divisional Medical Director at Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, told the Standard: “We are sorry that, on this occasion, our high standards of care were not met.
“Following concerns raised by the patient, an investigation was undertaken and an action plan was put in place to ensure we embed the learning from this and prevent future incidents.”
Abbie Taylor, the medical negligence expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Ms Reilly, said it was “vital that lessons are learned to improve patient safety”.