Mum is awarded $755k after successfully claiming surgeon botched haemorrhoids surgery

A mother-of-two has been awarded $755,475 after she successfully claimed a surgeon botched her 2013 haemorrhoids surgery.

The Supreme Court of Tasmania found that on the balance of probabilities, Dr Tony Patiniotis had negligently performed surgery on Ann Marise Garling, who was 58 at the time, during a procedure in September, 2013.

She had sought medical advice after suffering anal bleeding which was found to be caused by internal haemorrhoids.

She received a surgical procedure known as a stapled haemorrhoidectomy by Dr Patiniotis.

However, the staple was inserted too low into her anal canal, which increased the risk of complications, Supreme Court Justice Michael Brett wrote in his decision.

The Supreme Court of Tasmania found Dr Tony Patiniotis had negligently performed surgery on Ann Marise Garling (pictured), who was 58 at the time, during a procedure in September, 2013.

She later received a loop ileostomy in 2016 and now lives with an external stoma bag which has significantly impacted all aspects of her life.

Justice Brett found following a five-day trial that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ the breach in duty of care had caused the nerve damage and the harm experienced to Ms Garling.

‘In my view, the negligent performance by the defendant of this procedure has had a significant impact on the plaintiff,’ he said in his findings, delivered on Monday.

‘Her capacity to enjoy her life and the activities which would normally be a part of it is very impaired. 

‘I thought that there was a degree of hopelessness in her own subjective assessment of her current circumstances. 

Dr Tony Patiniotis performed the stapled haemorrhoidectomy surgery

Dr Tony Patiniotis performed the stapled haemorrhoidectomy surgery 

‘Her evidence that she had ‘given up’ resonated, and I can understand how she would have developed that attitude.’

The court heard that Ms Garling had a history of constipation, rectal bleeding and symptoms relating to gastrointestinal motility, along with mental health issues.

She had complained of discomfort and being unable to sit down in the months that followed the procedure in 2013, as well as experiencing difficulty emptying her bowels.

‘The plaintiff’s case is that she has suffered permanent and severe disability as a result of the defendant’s negligence,’ Justice Brett said.

He added Ms Garling’s lawyers had argued the placement of the staples had caused ‘ongoing pain, problems with defecation, the aggravation of pre-existing psychological injury and impacts on her functionality’.

‘She described in evidence ongoing problems with nausea, vomiting and belching, social isolation because of embarrassment and actual problems experienced in respect of the stoma including the effect of smell, and accidents with the stoma bag,’ he said.

‘This has all had an effect on her capacity to make and form relationships and has prevented her from working. 

‘She has also suffered psychological problems as a result of the ongoing symptoms and the social isolation resulting from it.’ 

Justice Brett did not find Dr Patiniotis’ negligence had caused problems with her gastroinstestinal motility and musculoskeletal issues.

Dr Patiniotis, who still works as a surgeon at Hobart’s Obesity Surgery, had denied negligently performing the surgery and that it had resulted in ongoing difficulties for the patient.

‘The defendant’s argument is that the evidence does not support a causal link between any proved negligence in the performance of the procedure and the subsequent deterioration of the plaintiff’s health,’ Justice Brett said.

The doctor’s lawyers argued the problems Ms Garling faced after the surgery were due to her pre-existing conditions. 

Justice Brett said his impression was that Ms Garling had suffered ‘considerable psychological disturbance … arising from the negligent performance of the stapled haemorrhoidectomy, including those arising from the ileostomy’. 

As part of her payout, Ms Garling was awarded $75,000 towards pain, suffering and enjoyment of life, $240,000 for future outgoings and $320,000 for future domestic help. 

Dr Patiniotis was contacted for comment.