Botched vasectomy ruined patient's life
Daniel Stalker, 51, of Dunbar, East Lothian, said he complained three times that the anaesthetic had not taken effect but, despite his pleas, the doctor proceeded with the operation.
Mr Stalker, a former soldier, suffered a nerve injury and later agreed to the drastic measure of having his testes removed, but this failed to alleviate the constant pain he has experienced since the operation 12 years ago.
At the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday, Lord Uist accused Dr Paul Dewart, a hospital consultant and a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, of attempting a "cover-up" in a letter to Mr Stalker's GP by failing to make notes of the operation.
After the hearing, Elizabeth Stalker, 47, spoke of her anger at how her husband had been treated, saying it had "pretty much destroyed family life", leaving him largely bed-bound and with his daughter acting as his carer.
Lord Uist ruled that Dr Dewart, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at St John's Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, had done the "almost unthinkable" and had continued with surgery in the face of complaints from the patient.
The Court of Session heard Mr Stalker decided on a vasectomy when his wife was pregnant with their fourth child in 1996. Mr Stalker said that initially what he had experienced was "like a weak scratch from a cat" but Dr Dewart continued until Mr Stalker felt "a very, very sharp, excruciating pain" before doubling up and vomiting, reduced to tears.
Mrs Stalker said: "The medical authorities have tried to pull rank and cover this all up and I'm angry it has taken so long. They used to sort of laugh and say, 'Oh, here's the man who just came for an injection'.
"This is not about money – all we really want to do is make things easier by doing things like extending the ground-floor bedroom where Danny sleeps. Danny used to be a jolly, happy-go-lucky person who used to enjoy fishing and bowling, playing rugby and football and taking the older children camping. He did lots of charity work and we enjoyed nights out."
Mrs Stalker added: "We will have been married for 28 years in June, but we have not had any marital life since Aimee was born 12 years ago."
Dr Dewart, who estimated he had performed more than 1,000 vasectomies, said he did not remember Mr Stalker and insisted that he would never carry on with a procedure without ensuring the local anaesthetic had been effective.
"What we are talking about here is the centre of the doctor-patient relationship, the trust that an individual puts in his doctor, and I would not betray their trust," he told the court.
Vasectomy makes men sterile by keeping sperm out of semen.
The vas deferens – the tube taking sperm from the testes to the penis – is cut so that sperm can no longer get into semen.
It is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic.
About one in 1,000 operations is unsuccessful.
Even after a successful operation, about one in 2,000 men will become fertile again if the two ends of the cut vas deferens reunite.
It is not a legal requirement to get your partner's consent.
Most men have their vasectomy through the NHS, but waiting lists vary throughout the country.