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Suffered Negligent Medical Treatment Abroad? Consult a Lawyer Today

UK nationals who travel abroad for cosmetic surgery or other medical treatments can struggle to obtain damages in the event of a poor outcome. However, as a High Court ruling showed, obstacles posed by national boundaries do not deter English personal injury lawyers from rising to the challenge.

The case concerned a woman who underwent cosmetic surgery at a Polish clinic to remove excess skin arising from a gastric bypass procedure. It was alleged that her post-operative wounds became deeply infected and that, following her return to the UK, she was hospitalised for 10 days in a critical condition. Her dressings were said to have required frequent changing for many months.

Following her subsequent death from bronchopneumonia – an event that was not alleged to have been caused by her treatment in Poland – her widower pursued a claim in England against, amongst others, the clinic's Polish insurer. He sought damages to reflect the pain and suffering she had endured in the wake of her treatment in Poland, which was claimed to have been negligent.

The insurer made a full denial of liability. However, after it failed to formally acknowledge service of the proceedings, a default judgment was entered in the widower's favour. In subsequently refusing to set that judgment aside, a judge was particularly struck by the insurer's appalling delay in making that application.

Dismissing the insurer's challenge to that outcome, the Court detected no error of principle in the judge's approach. Even if the insurer were able to establish a viable defence to the claim, its gross delay and inactivity in the proceedings rendered the judge's conclusion inevitable. The amount of the widower's compensation would be assessed at a further hearing, if not agreed.