Woman wins pounds 50,000 for unwanted hysterectomy

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The Independent Online
A woman who claimed her womb and ovaries were removed without her consent during a routine operation has received a pounds 50,000 out of court settlement.

Caroline Richmond went into Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, London, in 1992, for a minor gynaecological operation and woke up to find the surgeon had performed a hysterectomy.

Ms Richmond, 59, said she had not given her consent for the operation and has now received the settlement from the National Health Service Legal Authority. Ian Fergusson, the gynaecologist, and South East London Health Authority have not admitted liability.

Ms Richmond, of Putney, south London, said she was pleased with the settlement and hailed it as an important victory for women.

"This was never a money thing," she said. "I didn't want or need the operation and I did not and would not have consented to it. The operation was a terrible waste of NHS money.

"What I want is my female parts. I want to have a female body. What the surgeon did to me is a crime. Doctors would never consider removing a man's penis without asking him first."

After the operation, Ms Richmond, who has no children, received therapy for post-traumatic stress.

"I was so traumatised I have been virtually unable to work since the operation and it has had severe effects on my private life," she said.

"I had hoped to remarry but it is very difficult to think of myself as a women when I have got some of my vital organs missing."

Ms Richmond was admitted to Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in April 1992 for an NHS operation to reduce heavy periods.

When she realised that the surgeon had removed her womb and ovaries, she discharged herself and complained to the police. A one-year police investigation ended without a prosecution.

Ms Richmond then sued Mr Fergusson and South East London Health Authority for negligence and battery and/or trespass against the person.

A statement from Guy's and St Thomas' said: "We deeply regret the distress suffered by Ms Richmond as a result of the hysterectomy, for which she felt she had not given permission.

"However, we understand that Mr Fergusson thought that he had Ms Richmond's consent to carry out a hysterectomy if he believed it to be in her medical interests.