Published: 00:01, 01 June 2014
A woman who nearly died when her bowel was perforated during an emergency caesarean was dismissed as having wind... and prescribed peppermint tea.
Nicky Smith, from Marden, has been left needing medication for life and having permanent diarrhoea after the botched procedure.
It happened when the 39-year-old was giving birth to her second child, a son, at the old Pembury hospital.
The problem went unnoticed and, when Mrs Smith complained of being in excruciating pain over the next three days, nurses blamed it on wind.
It was only when her husband intervened on day four and insisted her cries for help were taken seriously that action was taken.
A scan then found the perforation and Mrs Smith was rushed to nearby Kent and Sussex Hospital for emergency surgery.
Doctors who repaired the damage told her she would die within a day had she not had an operation.
"They told me it was wind and gave me peppermint tea. On the second day, I was screaming in pain but they gave me more tea..." - Nicky Smith
Now the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which ran both hospitals, admitted liability for the 2011 incident.
Mrs Smith said: "They told me it was wind and gave me peppermint tea. On the second day, I was screaming in pain but they gave me more tea.
"I felt like nobody was listening. I was in so much pain I couldn't sit up or walk. If I had have done what they said I wouldn't be here now."
Mrs Smith was in hospital for two weeks and had a colostomy bag fitted, which was removed four months later.
"It shouldn't have happened," she said. "If somebody had listened to me maybe they could have done something sooner. They should listen to the patients. You know your own body and you know when something's really wrong."
Mrs Smith, who has a seven-year-old daughter and whose son is nearly three, added the damage would affect her for life.
"I can't eat certain things and I don't go out much as I can't be far from a toilet," she added.
Solicitor Sarah Harman, representing the family, said: "There was a serious delay in the diagnosis which meant Nicky had to have life saving surgery and a lengthy recovery period which is still not complete."
Mrs Smith will receive a payout, but the amount has not yet been determined.
A trust spokesman said it was sincerely sorry that areas of Mrs Smith's care did not meet the high standard it seeks to provide for all its patients.
Both hospitals involved are now closed and have been replaced by the new Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury.
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