Birmingham & Black Country

Coventry hospital 'removed healthy part of brain'

A Warwickshire hospital trust has admitted liability after a man suffered permanent brain damage when he was subjected to unnecessary surgery.

John Tunney, 63, from Sutton Coldfield should have been given tablets to control a pituitary gland problem.

But instead he was subjected to an unnecessary biopsy by a surgeon who then wrongly removed part of his brain rather than the tumour.

The former paramedic is now partially sighted and needs full-time care.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said the surgeon involved was no longer involved in such surgery.

Richard Kennedy, chief medical officer for the trust, said: "I very much regret the tragic outcome for Mr Tunney and his family and on behalf of the trust would like to apologise for this."

Benign condition

He added they had reviewed their "governance process" and he was confident measures had been put in place "to prevent this type of incident recurring".

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, for Mr Tunney, said he had undergone a number of tests and procedures, initially at Good Hope Hospital.

But following an MRI scan which detected abnormalities around his pituitary gland, he was referred to Walsgrave Hospital.

Blood tests were taken to determine hormone levels which would have revealed Mr Tunney was suffering from a benign condition known as prolactinoma which could have been controlled with medication.

But the blood tests were not reviewed prior to the biopsy and in April 2008 Mr Tunney underwent a biopsy on the pituitary tumour at Coventry's Walsgrave Hospital.

During the operation, he suffered a brain haemorrhage and serious neurological injuries when the surgeon wrongly removed normal brain tissue.

Timothy Deeming, a medical law expert with Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham, said: "The fact that the surgeon managed to remove perfectly healthy tissue rather than a sample of the tumour tissue is, in itself, an appalling error.

Image caption John Tunney (pictured with wife Pamela) now needs full-time care

"To then find that the procedure was totally unnecessary because clinicians had failed to review a blood test, really does add insult to injury."

He added that before a settlement could be reached the firm needed to evaluate the cost of the lifelong care and support that Mr Tunney would now require.

Mr Tunney's wife Pamela said: "John's brain injury has had devastating effects on him.

"Prior to the surgery he was a very easy going person who was always active and on the go. To see the change in him and to know that it was all entirely avoidable is extremely upsetting.

"This mistake is not something that the hospital can just take back.

"I pray that they don't make this mistake again and no other family has to experience seeing their husband suffer the pain and loss that John has."

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