East Lancs mum left ‘traumatised’ after waking up moments before operation

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Alexandra Bythell, 36, came round minutes before surgery to remove her appendix at Royal Blackburn Hospital Alexandra Bythell, 36, came round minutes before surgery to remove her appendix at Royal Blackburn Hospital

A MOTHER who was left ‘traumatised’ when she woke up on an operating table has won compensation from the hospital.

Alexandra Bythell, 36, came round minutes before surgery to remove her appendix at Royal Blackburn Hospital because she was not given enough anaesthetic, her solicitors said.

The psychiatric nurse, from Burnley, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after she woke up with tubes down her throat and tape across her eyes, they said.

Mrs Bythell said she was unable to move because the drugs she had been administered by staff had left her temporarily paralysed, but she could still hear people speaking about her size and weight.

She claims she then felt someone poking and prodding at her abdomen before there was a shout for more morphine and she fell back asleep.

Mrs Bythell, who suffers from flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks and anxiety, said: “The whole incident was terrifying.

“The body isn’t prepared to be awake in those situations. I had tubes in my mouth and my eyes were taped up – I was hysterical with panic but completely unable to do anything about it.

“I thought I was in surgery already and I felt like I was going to die.

“Afterwards I tried to explain to the staff what happened but I was constantly given the wrong information – first it was hallucinations, then it was a faulty machine.”

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, which represented Mrs Bythell, said that after the operation, in September 2010, hospital staff initially thought that she had suffered a hallucination brought on by the drugs.

The lawyers claim staff then blamed a faulty machine, before a critical incident report by the hospital concluded that it was actually caused by human error.

Sarah Sharples, a medical lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said staff had not noticed that a vaporiser, which is supposed to deliver a given concentration of anaesthetic, was empty.

Mrs Bythell, who lives with her husband Robert, 38, and their four-year-old daughter, has won an undisclosed sum from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust in an out-of-court settlement.

She has also received an apology from the trust.

Dr Ian Stanley, the trust’s interim executive medical director, said: “We are very sorry for the distress experienced by Ms Bythell.

“We are pleased that a settlement has now been agreed and procedures have been put in place to reduce the chance of this happening again.”

Mrs Bythell, who is currently eight months pregnant, returned to work in January 2011 but has suffered a number of relapses due to daily battles with anxiety and panic attacks.

She said: “It was incredibly distressing to find out that this was all caused by somebody not checking the machine actually had gas in it.

“When it first happened I was absolutely traumatised. I just hope improvements are made to the anaesthetic process so they don’t let this happen to anyone else – I would hate for people to suffer what I have.”

Ms Sharples said: “What happened to Alexandra is totally unacceptable.

“This was supposed to be a routine surgical procedure and she should have woken up after surgery safe in the knowledge that everything had gone well and she would make a full recovery.

“Instead she woke up paralysed, thinking that she was actually in theatre and thinking that she was about to die.

“She was left distraught over what had happened and why she had effectively woken up. The experience has had a massive affect on Alexandra psychologically.

“She put her trust in NHS staff but sadly on this occasion she was let down. It is crucial that the NHS Trust learns from this mistake and ensures that it cannot happen again.

“This was not a faulty machine. This was a simple avoidable human error and it is crucial that systems are introduced to stop this happening again.”

Mrs Bythell said the payout would cover her lost earnings and the therapy she has needed to help her manage her ongoing psychological problems.

Comments (18)

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6:28am Thu 17 Apr 14

golazzo says...

Taking her own employees to court. Not the brightest thing to do. Face won't fit much longer that's for sure.
Taking her own employees to court. Not the brightest thing to do. Face won't fit much longer that's for sure. golazzo
  • Score: 19

6:28am Thu 17 Apr 14

Steven Seagull says...

Compensation culture at its worst.
Compensation culture at its worst. Steven Seagull
  • Score: 25

7:00am Thu 17 Apr 14

happycyclist says...

This will cost the NHS financially and also take surgeons/anaesthetis
ts away from the front line whilst they bother themselves with hearings, disciplinaries, etc. It also adds stress to those people and increases the likelihood of them making more mistakes. Staff leave/go on sick, morale drops, more mistakes happen...
Well done and thanks. The NHS is that little bit worse off for your compensation claim, and so is every patient.
This will cost the NHS financially and also take surgeons/anaesthetis ts away from the front line whilst they bother themselves with hearings, disciplinaries, etc. It also adds stress to those people and increases the likelihood of them making more mistakes. Staff leave/go on sick, morale drops, more mistakes happen... Well done and thanks. The NHS is that little bit worse off for your compensation claim, and so is every patient. happycyclist
  • Score: 15

7:29am Thu 17 Apr 14

Chris P Bacon says...

Drama queen.
Drama queen. Chris P Bacon
  • Score: 21

8:35am Thu 17 Apr 14

woolywords says...

It is the very stuff of a Stephen King nightmare tale, writ large.
If being on an operating theatre table, unable to move, so as to give an indication that you are near concious and aware of what is going on, as someone slices into you, then rummages around in your intestines, isn't deserving of compensation of some form, I really don't know what is.

Or is it me, with my over-active imagination, running riot and thinking the very worst? I do know that I'm saving this story, for those nights where we all either sit around a camp fire or on Hallowe'en, telling horror stories. This one is a corker, as it's already given me the willy's. And, what makes it worse is that it's true. Oh lummy, Mummy!

http://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/The_Pit_and
_the_Pendulum#Plot_s
ummary
It is the very stuff of a Stephen King nightmare tale, writ large. If being on an operating theatre table, unable to move, so as to give an indication that you are near concious and aware of what is going on, as someone slices into you, then rummages around in your intestines, isn't deserving of compensation of some form, I really don't know what is. Or is it me, with my over-active imagination, running riot and thinking the very worst? I do know that I'm saving this story, for those nights where we all either sit around a camp fire or on Hallowe'en, telling horror stories. This one is a corker, as it's already given me the willy's. And, what makes it worse is that it's true. Oh lummy, Mummy! http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Pit_and _the_Pendulum#Plot_s ummary woolywords
  • Score: 5

10:17am Thu 17 Apr 14

Angusam says...

Build a bridge and "get over it". Panic Attacks and nightmares, please.

Yes it should not have happened, but don't string this out for what it isn't. When you think about the hundreds of operations that are done and the minimal % of things that go wrong.

You still woke up alive and made a full recovery I take it, had it have not been for the life saving operation to remove the apendicts then you would be dead.
Build a bridge and "get over it". Panic Attacks and nightmares, please. Yes it should not have happened, but don't string this out for what it isn't. When you think about the hundreds of operations that are done and the minimal % of things that go wrong. You still woke up alive and made a full recovery I take it, had it have not been for the life saving operation to remove the apendicts then you would be dead. Angusam
  • Score: 28

11:03am Thu 17 Apr 14

Fire Fly says...

What happened to this Lady, shouldn't have. That's an absolute given.
She fought for & received compensation, she's had an apology & steps have been taken to make sure this doesn'thappen again.

So, why go to the press now...what else could she possibly hope to gain...?? Not a thing basically. It a step that always makes me sceptical, especially when someone has presented a case where 'they've suffered enough'.

Surely this is just dragging the whole sorry episode on & instead of moving on now with a positive outcome from the case, she's choosing to keep it going. It's time to move on, its not the events that are keeping her in this vicious cycle - she is.
What happened to this Lady, shouldn't have. That's an absolute given. She fought for & received compensation, she's had an apology & steps have been taken to make sure this doesn'thappen again. So, why go to the press now...what else could she possibly hope to gain...?? Not a thing basically. It a step that always makes me sceptical, especially when someone has presented a case where 'they've suffered enough'. Surely this is just dragging the whole sorry episode on & instead of moving on now with a positive outcome from the case, she's choosing to keep it going. It's time to move on, its not the events that are keeping her in this vicious cycle - she is. Fire Fly
  • Score: 29

11:14am Thu 17 Apr 14

We'll win the next one says...

woolywords wrote:
It is the very stuff of a Stephen King nightmare tale, writ large. If being on an operating theatre table, unable to move, so as to give an indication that you are near concious and aware of what is going on, as someone slices into you, then rummages around in your intestines, isn't deserving of compensation of some form, I really don't know what is. Or is it me, with my over-active imagination, running riot and thinking the very worst? I do know that I'm saving this story, for those nights where we all either sit around a camp fire or on Hallowe'en, telling horror stories. This one is a corker, as it's already given me the willy's. And, what makes it worse is that it's true. Oh lummy, Mummy! http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Pit_and _the_Pendulum#Plot_s ummary
The second anaesthetic was administered and she went to sleep had the op and woke up. She wasn't cut open awake that is just a fallacy. I agree it shouldn’t happen and yes deserves an apology and compensation. In my opinion she seems to be playing this one for as long as she can and going for as much as she can. Just my opinion.
[quote][p][bold]woolywords[/bold] wrote: It is the very stuff of a Stephen King nightmare tale, writ large. If being on an operating theatre table, unable to move, so as to give an indication that you are near concious and aware of what is going on, as someone slices into you, then rummages around in your intestines, isn't deserving of compensation of some form, I really don't know what is. Or is it me, with my over-active imagination, running riot and thinking the very worst? I do know that I'm saving this story, for those nights where we all either sit around a camp fire or on Hallowe'en, telling horror stories. This one is a corker, as it's already given me the willy's. And, what makes it worse is that it's true. Oh lummy, Mummy! http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Pit_and _the_Pendulum#Plot_s ummary[/p][/quote]The second anaesthetic was administered and she went to sleep had the op and woke up. She wasn't cut open awake that is just a fallacy. I agree it shouldn’t happen and yes deserves an apology and compensation. In my opinion she seems to be playing this one for as long as she can and going for as much as she can. Just my opinion. We'll win the next one
  • Score: 21

11:22am Thu 17 Apr 14

mark anthony says...

Psychiatric nurse! Hmmmm. She will know how to play along with the elements of dispare Please don't get me wrong but I wouldn't like to happen to me. Or anybody else it could have been worse another chunk of of the NHS coffers.
Psychiatric nurse! Hmmmm. She will know how to play along with the elements of dispare Please don't get me wrong but I wouldn't like to happen to me. Or anybody else it could have been worse another chunk of of the NHS coffers. mark anthony
  • Score: 17

11:50am Thu 17 Apr 14

Whydidtheybanme? says...

Agree - compensation culture at it's worst. A mistake happened (that's life, they happen) but was quickly rectified, no harm done - although given her field of work sounds like she has quickly picked up on a nice little compo earner (will know all the right things to say, however shouldn't she by her own profession know how to deal with her "trauma" and realise her anxiety is disproportionate and irrational? - just a thought from a layman - cue shoot down in flames by liberal sympathisers).

As someone else has said, wouldn't wish it upon or want it to happen to me, but this is yet another drain on our NHS - as bad as all the scroungers who just take out without putting anything in.

Would be interesting to find out what she received - you can bet it's a substantial amount and in excess of what a some of our troops receive with horrific injuries in conflicts.
Agree - compensation culture at it's worst. A mistake happened (that's life, they happen) but was quickly rectified, no harm done - although given her field of work sounds like she has quickly picked up on a nice little compo earner (will know all the right things to say, however shouldn't she by her own profession know how to deal with her "trauma" and realise her anxiety is disproportionate and irrational? - just a thought from a layman - cue shoot down in flames by liberal sympathisers). As someone else has said, wouldn't wish it upon or want it to happen to me, but this is yet another drain on our NHS - as bad as all the scroungers who just take out without putting anything in. Would be interesting to find out what she received - you can bet it's a substantial amount and in excess of what a some of our troops receive with horrific injuries in conflicts. Whydidtheybanme?
  • Score: 24

3:53pm Thu 17 Apr 14

mavrick says...

How many times is this story going to run?
How many times is this story going to run? mavrick
  • Score: 8

4:59pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Graham Hartley says...

It was common practice, and mentioned on the agreement form that one signs prior to surgery, to give a drug which erases short-term memory - so that in rare cases of patients waking during surgery they would later have no recall of that event. I read carefully any document I am asked to sign and always keep a copy. This was the agreement prior to my last operation, when the anaesthetist - who was the son of a friend - described the practice at my prompting. Was this not the practice in Mrs Bythell's case?
It was common practice, and mentioned on the agreement form that one signs prior to surgery, to give a drug which erases short-term memory - so that in rare cases of patients waking during surgery they would later have no recall of that event. I read carefully any document I am asked to sign and always keep a copy. This was the agreement prior to my last operation, when the anaesthetist - who was the son of a friend - described the practice at my prompting. Was this not the practice in Mrs Bythell's case? Graham Hartley
  • Score: 1

6:19pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Legal Beagle says...

So, why go to the press now...what else could she possibly hope to gain...??

It's highly likely that it wasn't she who went to the press but her solicitors, Irwin Mitchell. This story has all the hallmarks of a press release (aka advertising in the guise of news). Why otherwise would the identity of the solicitors who represented her be in any way relevant to the story?

It would also be interesting to know how much they got paid. No doubt they were working on a Conditional Fee Agreement with a `success fee' that doubled the basic fees. In such cases the solicitors' fees are often far more than the compensation received by the client.

Either way I'd be surprised if it was less than £50k, all to be paid out of the NHS budget amd diverted from medical care.

There should be some form of independent assessment service for this sort of situation, with lawyers excluded as far as possible (and I say that as one myself). It's outrageous that funds destined for medical care should end up in the pockets of ambulance chasing lawyers.
So, why go to the press now...what else could she possibly hope to gain...?? It's highly likely that it wasn't she who went to the press but her solicitors, Irwin Mitchell. This story has all the hallmarks of a press release (aka advertising in the guise of news). Why otherwise would the identity of the solicitors who represented her be in any way relevant to the story? It would also be interesting to know how much they got paid. No doubt they were working on a Conditional Fee Agreement with a `success fee' that doubled the basic fees. In such cases the solicitors' fees are often far more than the compensation received by the client. Either way I'd be surprised if it was less than £50k, all to be paid out of the NHS budget amd diverted from medical care. There should be some form of independent assessment service for this sort of situation, with lawyers excluded as far as possible (and I say that as one myself). It's outrageous that funds destined for medical care should end up in the pockets of ambulance chasing lawyers. Legal Beagle
  • Score: 3

6:37pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Mikeee47 says...

golazzo wrote:
Taking her own employees to court. Not the brightest thing to do. Face won't fit much longer that's for sure.
That's why the country is on its knees because people without a spine wont speak up, frightened of losing jobs, Brave thing to do what are they going to do sack her?? theres another tribunal.
well done that lady for spilling the beans of yet ANOTHER in the long list of blunders at RBH.
[quote][p][bold]golazzo[/bold] wrote: Taking her own employees to court. Not the brightest thing to do. Face won't fit much longer that's for sure.[/p][/quote]That's why the country is on its knees because people without a spine wont speak up, frightened of losing jobs, Brave thing to do what are they going to do sack her?? theres another tribunal. well done that lady for spilling the beans of yet ANOTHER in the long list of blunders at RBH. Mikeee47
  • Score: -6

6:58pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Scooby says...

Jeez, seriously? Some people really know how to milk a situation!

I had an op a few years back and woke up part way through with tubes down my throat and a mouthful of blood.. Was drugged up again within a few seconds and the op was finished. I'm not scarred for life, and I'm definitely not going to sue the surgeons who made my life a lot better!

Can't stand people who try to make easy money out of people who are there trying to help you!
Jeez, seriously? Some people really know how to milk a situation! I had an op a few years back and woke up part way through with tubes down my throat and a mouthful of blood.. Was drugged up again within a few seconds and the op was finished. I'm not scarred for life, and I'm definitely not going to sue the surgeons who made my life a lot better! Can't stand people who try to make easy money out of people who are there trying to help you! Scooby
  • Score: 11

7:36pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Fire Fly says...

Legal Beagle wrote:
So, why go to the press now...what else could she possibly hope to gain...??

It's highly likely that it wasn't she who went to the press but her solicitors, Irwin Mitchell. This story has all the hallmarks of a press release (aka advertising in the guise of news). Why otherwise would the identity of the solicitors who represented her be in any way relevant to the story?

It would also be interesting to know how much they got paid. No doubt they were working on a Conditional Fee Agreement with a `success fee' that doubled the basic fees. In such cases the solicitors' fees are often far more than the compensation received by the client.

Either way I'd be surprised if it was less than £50k, all to be paid out of the NHS budget amd diverted from medical care.

There should be some form of independent assessment service for this sort of situation, with lawyers excluded as far as possible (and I say that as one myself). It's outrageous that funds destined for medical care should end up in the pockets of ambulance chasing lawyers.
It wasn't the solicitors sat on the Daybreak sofa this morning , it was 'the victim' herself.

The solicitors will of course comment if asked...why not, it's free publicity. And having watched the Daybreak interview, they didn't really seem to have a great deal of sympathy/understandi
ng for what she's doing now & Miss Bythell herself, wasn't at all convincing as a traumatised victim.
[quote][p][bold]Legal Beagle[/bold] wrote: So, why go to the press now...what else could she possibly hope to gain...?? It's highly likely that it wasn't she who went to the press but her solicitors, Irwin Mitchell. This story has all the hallmarks of a press release (aka advertising in the guise of news). Why otherwise would the identity of the solicitors who represented her be in any way relevant to the story? It would also be interesting to know how much they got paid. No doubt they were working on a Conditional Fee Agreement with a `success fee' that doubled the basic fees. In such cases the solicitors' fees are often far more than the compensation received by the client. Either way I'd be surprised if it was less than £50k, all to be paid out of the NHS budget amd diverted from medical care. There should be some form of independent assessment service for this sort of situation, with lawyers excluded as far as possible (and I say that as one myself). It's outrageous that funds destined for medical care should end up in the pockets of ambulance chasing lawyers.[/p][/quote]It wasn't the solicitors sat on the Daybreak sofa this morning , it was 'the victim' herself. The solicitors will of course comment if asked...why not, it's free publicity. And having watched the Daybreak interview, they didn't really seem to have a great deal of sympathy/understandi ng for what she's doing now & Miss Bythell herself, wasn't at all convincing as a traumatised victim. Fire Fly
  • Score: 6

9:24pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Steven Seagull says...

Mikeee47 wrote:
golazzo wrote:
Taking her own employees to court. Not the brightest thing to do. Face won't fit much longer that's for sure.
That's why the country is on its knees because people without a spine wont speak up, frightened of losing jobs, Brave thing to do what are they going to do sack her?? theres another tribunal.
well done that lady for spilling the beans of yet ANOTHER in the long list of blunders at RBH.
Still talking out of your balloon knot eh Mikeeeeee?

The country is on its knees because of sympathetic Ne'er-do-wells like you that can't see beyond the end of your nose.

Still got those points on your licence for using a mobile whilst driving?
[quote][p][bold]Mikeee47[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]golazzo[/bold] wrote: Taking her own employees to court. Not the brightest thing to do. Face won't fit much longer that's for sure.[/p][/quote]That's why the country is on its knees because people without a spine wont speak up, frightened of losing jobs, Brave thing to do what are they going to do sack her?? theres another tribunal. well done that lady for spilling the beans of yet ANOTHER in the long list of blunders at RBH.[/p][/quote]Still talking out of your balloon knot eh Mikeeeeee? The country is on its knees because of sympathetic Ne'er-do-wells like you that can't see beyond the end of your nose. Still got those points on your licence for using a mobile whilst driving? Steven Seagull
  • Score: 5

1:29pm Fri 18 Apr 14

alan7554 says...

cerrect me if i am wrong,but this mishap happened over 3 and a half years ago, she has been awarded a good amount of compensation ie undisclosed sum and nothing actually happened to her,ok she woke up,but woke up BEFORE anything had been cut opened or taken out and she was put back under,smells of a dodgy clim and to sue the hand that feeds you,well if there are redundancies coming i guess who will be first to go, i woke up whilst having my tonsils out when i was 12 years old or did i just imagine it,not sure but to make an issue of it now beggars belief
cerrect me if i am wrong,but this mishap happened over 3 and a half years ago, she has been awarded a good amount of compensation ie undisclosed sum and nothing actually happened to her,ok she woke up,but woke up BEFORE anything had been cut opened or taken out and she was put back under,smells of a dodgy clim and to sue the hand that feeds you,well if there are redundancies coming i guess who will be first to go, i woke up whilst having my tonsils out when i was 12 years old or did i just imagine it,not sure but to make an issue of it now beggars belief alan7554
  • Score: 5

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