Surgeon in death blunder

Wishaw General Hospital
Wishaw General Hospital

a SURGEON has admitted that her mistake led to the death of a Motherwell man after a routine gall bladder operation.

Consultant Alison Lannigan unwittingly cut into another organ while performing keyhole surgery on former steelworker Andrew Ritchie.

Mrs Lannigan told a fatal accident inquiry this week that the tragedy might have been avoided had she carried out open surgery rather than the keyhole procedure.

She also admitted she should have acted sooner after Mr Ritchie suffered problems following surgery.

Mr Ritchie (62), of Burnside Tower, died nine days after the operation in June 2006.

His death is one of three involving gall bladder patients at Wishaw General Hospital over a six-month period under investigation at the inquiry in Cumbernauld.

Mr Ritchie, a bachelor, was well known as a cabaret singer on the social club circuit.

He was admitted to hospital with abdominal pains in January 2006. An ultrasound revealed his gall bladder was swollen and there was evidence of gallstones.

Mr Ritchie was given medication and allowed home after nine days. He was then put on a waiting list for keyhole surgery.

Anne Ferguson, who is leading the evidence on behalf of the Crown, said some medical experts believe gall bladder surgery should be carried out when the problem is identified and not delayed.

Mrs Lannigan said a debate on that subject has been going on for many years. She admitted that lack of resources can put back surgery, but is not the only factor.

Mr Ritchie returned to hospital on June 13 and keyhole surgery was performed the next day.

The inquiry is also probing the deaths of two other gall bladder patients at Wishaw General. They were operated on by other surgeons.

The hearing, before Sheriff Robert Dickson, continues.

Full story in this week’s Motherwell Times.