Health Service Contests Value of Burst Appendix Claim


The value of a claim made by a woman who was rendered infertile because the NHS failed to remove her burst appendix is being disputed by the health service.


In 2008, the woman in question – Sarah Marquis – experienced severe abdominal pains and visited her GP. However, she was then admitted to Homerton Hospital in East London, where she was put on a course of painkillers. It was not noticed that Ms Marquis’ appendix needed to be removed. Eventually, doctors did remove the organ, but by that stage it was already “gangrenous and perforated”, causing such a severe abdominal infection that Ms Marquis was rendered infertile.


Ms Marquis’ illness meant that she could not return to work at DLA Piper, a top London law firm, for three-and-a-half years after her operation. After seeking legal advice, Ms Marquis made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who oversee proceedings at the hospital where Ms Marquis was treated. Though the Foundation Trust admitted liability for the delay in removing Ms Marquis’ appendix – and her subsequent injuries – they contest the value for which she is making a claim. Ms Marquis is seeking compensation of £1.5 million, though the NHS say the value should be closer to £300,000.


The claim for medical negligence compensation proceeded to the High Court in London, where it was overseen by Judge Robert Owen QC. Ms Marquis gave evidence of how her life was changed by the burst appendix and subsequent infection, such as the missed opportunities she had to work in the United States of America, where she could have expected an increased salary. She will also never be able to conceive her own biological child.


The barrister for the NHS Trust, Bradley Martin, read an apology from the Trust to Ms Marquis, fully acknowledging that her injuries were their fault. However, he proceeded to say that he doubted that Ms Marquis’ “burning desire” to have children was compatible with her wish to move to the USA to advance her career, and posited that she would not have done both, choosing one over the other.
The hearing is due to continue later this month.

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