A 46-year-old man consulted a surgeon privately because of a right inguinal hernia. At examination the surgeon decided that the left testis was normal but that the right testis was undescended. He advised that, if accessible, the right testis should be removed during the planned hernia repair to preclude the possibility of malignant change. An operation was performed.
Postoperatively it became clear that the right testis, which had been removed was normal, but this had not been recognised by the surgeon. The patient was left with a high and undescended left testis, which was probably non-functional and possibly susceptible to malignant change.
The patient was very distressed by what had taken place. He developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder together with all the physical and psychological effects of castration. His depression and suicidal tendencies could be controlled only with difficulty, and he was totally unable to return to any form of employment.
The inevitable claim was settled for a sum that reflected carefully quantified compensation for the loss of future earnings.
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