How To Complain About Unnecessary Surgery And Make A Claim

This guide will cover how to complain about unnecessary surgery. If you have had surgery performed on you that wasn’t needed, you may wish to make a complaint about the service provider. In doing so, you could understand why the mistake has happened, as well as allow the service provider to put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The procedure you need to follow to submit your complaint could differ depending on where you received care. This guide will provide guidance on the different bodies with whom you could raise your concerns. 

how to complain about unnecessary surgery

How To Complain About Unnecessary Surgery

Additionally, you will find an explanation of a medical professional’s duty of care and how breaches of this can result in you suffering avoidable harm by being given an unnecessary surgical procedure. 

We have also provided some illustrative examples of how these surgical errors can occur and the harm that could be sustained from this type of surgery negligence.

This guide also looks at when it may be possible to make a medical negligence claim for unnecessary surgery, as well as the compensation that could be awarded should your claim succeed.

Our guide concludes with a brief discussion of the benefits of working with a solicitor from our panel under a specific type of No Win No Fee agreement for your potential claim.

You can reach out to our team if you would like more information about the contents of this guide or any concerns you may have about making a complaint. To get in touch, you can:

Jump To A Section

  1. How To Complain About Unnecessary Surgery
  2. Can You Sue For Unnecessary Surgery?
  3. Types Of Unnecessary Surgery
  4. Examples Of What You Could Claim For Unnecessary Surgery
  5. Check How To Claim On A No Win No Fee Basis
  6. Further Guidance On How To Complain About Unnecessary Surgery

How To Complain About Unnecessary Surgery

The first step in making a complaint about an unnecessary surgical procedure is to speak to your healthcare provider. Depending on where you had the surgery, the complaints process will be slightly different, so it is important to make sure you are clear on the relevant organisation’s complaints policy. 

As well as going through the healthcare provider’s complaints procedure, you can also complain to official bodies. For example:

  • The General Medical Council (GMC) is the regulatory body for doctors in the UK. They are also responsible for investigating cases where a doctor has put a patient at risk.
  • The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) makes the final decisions on unresolved complaints by NHS England and other UK government departments or public organisations.
  • The Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service acts in a similar capacity to the PHSO for private healthcare providers, although not all of them subscribe to this scheme.

How We Could Help You Complain About Surgical Negligence

Our team of advisors can assist you with how to complain about unnecessary surgery. They can discuss your particular case, give you a clearer idea of how you could structure your complaint, and make sure you’re making your complaint to the correct organisation.

They can also advise you on your eligibility to pursue legal action for medical negligence, which is discussed in more detail in the next section.

Can You Sue For Unnecessary Surgery?

Medical professionals owe a duty of care to all patients to whom they are administering treatment to provide them with the correct standard of care. As part of this duty, they need to ensure they prevent you from experiencing unnecessary or avoidable harm.

There may be circumstances where it is not possible to avoid causing further injury or illness when providing the correct standard of care. An example of this would be the need to break a fractured wrist in order to reset the joint, so it heals properly. The patient will sustain further harm, but it was necessary in order to surgically repair the fracture and provide the correct treatment.

The eligibility criteria for making a medical negligence claim are:

  1. A medical professional owed you a duty of care,
  2. The medical professional breached the duty of care they owed to you as their patient,
  3. This breach resulted in you experiencing avoidable or unnecessary harm.

Time Limitations

Medical negligence claims are subject to the time limit laid out in the Limitation Act 1980. In most cases, this is 3 years from the date of the unnecessary surgery. However, it can also begin from the date the person realised medical negligence occurred. This is also known as the date of knowledge.

There are circumstances in which exceptions to this time limit can apply, and extensions can be granted. For example, if the affected person is under 18, the time limit is frozen until they turn 18. Similarly, if the affected party is of a reduced mental capacity, the time limit is frozen indefinitely; if they recover their mental capacity, the 3-year limit commences from the date of recovery.

In both of these scenarios, another party can be appointed to act on the affected person’s behalf and start the claims process sooner. This person is called a litigation friend.

You can get in touch with our team advisors for more guidance on the time limit and if any exceptions apply to your case. They could also advise further on how to make a complaint for unnecessary surgery.

Types Of Unnecessary Surgery

Unnecessary surgery is any surgical procedure that you did not need to have. There are different ways this could occur, such as being misdiagnosed and given surgical treatment that you didn’t need, and having your patient charts mixed up which meant you received surgery that was meant for a different patient.

The effects of unnecessary surgery could include, for example: 

  • Surgical amputation.
  • A foreign body is left in the patient leading to infection.
  • Scarring.
  • The removal of organs.

Never Events

The NHS has collated a list of never events in medical practice. A never event is defined as a serious error that should never happen. A surgical never event is always a case of surgical medical negligence. This could include amputation negligence where a surgeon has operated on, or removed the wrong body part.

To discuss your specific case,  and learn how to complain about unnecessary surgery, as well as whether you could make a medical negligence claim, call our team.

Examples Of What You Could Claim For Unnecessary Surgery

Following a successful claim, you will be awarded a compensation payout which can be made up of two heads of claim. General damages are awarded for the pain and suffering you experienced because of the negligence of the medical professional who administered your treatment.

Below you will see a table with examples of harm that could be sustained from unnecessary surgery. The contents of this table were collated from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG), a publication containing various types of harm alongside their guideline award brackets. Solicitors can use these to help them value general damages.

It is important to note that the amounts listed below are not guaranteed payouts, as medical negligence claims are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, this information has been included as a guide only.

Compensation Table

Harm TypeDescriptionAmount
Very Severe Brain Damage (a)There will be minimal evidence, if any at all, of the person responding meaningfully to their environment. There will also be minimal language function, or none at all, with the need for full-time care.£282,010 to £403,990
Moderately Severe Brain Damage (b)Very serious disability with substantial dependence on others.£219,070 to £282,010
Chest Injury (a)Total removal of one lung and/or serious heart damage. There is serious and ongoing pain with permanent and significant scarring.£100,670 to £150,110
Kidney (a)Loss of, or serious and permanent damage to, both kidneys.£169,400 to £210,400
Kidney (b)Significant risk of urinary tract infection, other total loss of function.Up to £63,980
Spleen (a)Loss of spleen with continuing risk of infection due to immune system damage.£20,800 to £26,290
Leg Amputation (a)(iii)Above-knee amputation of one leg.£104,830 to £137,470

Special Damages

The other head of claim that can make up a successful medical negligence claim is known as special damages. Special damages can be awarded to compensate for any financial losses you have incurred as a result of the harm you sustained due to medical negligence. Some examples could include:

  • Medical costs.
  • Travel expenses.
  • The cost of home alterations.
  • Loss of income.

Retain any receipts, payslips, invoices or other documents that show your financial losses.

Check How To Claim On A No Win No Fee Basis

Provided you meet the eligibility criteria for starting a medical negligence claim, our team of advisors could connect you with a solicitor from our panel. You could be offered a specific variation of a No Win No Fee contract called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Under this arrangement, there are generally no upfront fees for the solicitor’s services, nor any fees as your claim moves forward. You will not be required to pay the solicitor for their work in the event your claim does not succeed. 

Upon the success of your claim, you will be awarded compensation. Your solicitor will automatically deduct a percentage of this amount, partially to cover their services. This is their success fee. Success fees are subject to a legal cap meaning you will keep most of your compensation.

You can reach out to our team if you would like more information on how to complain about unnecessary surgery, or whether you could make a medical negligence claim. To get in touch, you can:

Further Guidance On How To Complain About Unnecessary Surgery

For more of our guides:

Further Resources

Thank you for reading our guide on how to complain about unnecessary surgery. Our team of advisors are available to answer your questions and talk you through the complaints process. They can also advise on your eligibility to seek a medical negligence payout. Call on the number above to find out more.

Guide by Harry

Edited by Meg