BL Claims Solicitors recover over £100,000 for negligent orthopaedic surgery
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Kym Provan a partner in the clinical negligence team at BL Claims Solicitors has successfully agreed settlement of a claim resulting from negligent orthopaedic surgery for a woman in the north west of England.
Mrs C slipped on ice in January 2011 and fell heavily onto her outstretched dominant arm. She attended A&E and a complex fracture to the elbow was diagnosed. She was told that she would require surgery to realign the fracture, although this was delayed for over a week for no explicable reason.
During surgery, the surgeon failed to make sure that the screws that he inserted to hold the fracture together had gone through into all the fragments of bone. As a result, the fracture was never going to unite properly and Mrs C was left with very limited movement in her elbow, the reason for which was not properly investigated. Mrs C underwent four further surgical procedures under the same surgeon, yet at none of these was the failure to unite all of the bone fragments addressed. Furthermore, the surgeon failed to ensure that aggressive physiotherapy was arranged for Mrs C, which would have helped to maximise her range of movement.
During this time, Mrs C suffered from very considerable pain requiring opiate pain relief, needed assistance with her personal care and all domestic tasks and suffered from worsening depression because she could see no end in sight, despite multiple surgeries.
Seventeen months after her initial injury, Mrs C sought a second opinion at another hospital. The orthopaedic surgeon who saw her recognised the very complex nature of her injury straight away and referred her to a specialist in elbow surgery. She underwent another operation in January 2013 during which the loose fragment of bone was removed and the rest of the joint properly fixated. Unfortunately, due to the number of procedures that she had already undergone and the lack of movement that she had had for such a prolonged period, Mrs C required further surgery to manipulate the joint in 2014, followed by an improved programme of physiotherapy, which did enable Mrs C to regain some of her range of movement.
Mrs C instructed Kym in July 2012. An independent orthopaedic expert was asked to comment on the standard of the initial surgery and the follow-up care that Mrs C had received from the first hospital. The expert was highly critical of all aspects of Mrs C's care. Court proceedings were issued in January 2014 and formal allegations of negligence sent to the Defendant hospital Trust. After an extended period of investigation, the Defendant made a number of admissions of breach of duty, including substandard initial surgery leading to Mrs C having to undergo at least five unnecessary operations.
Due to Mrs C's on-going treatment, settlement of the claim could not be considered until Mrs C's long-term outcome was known. However, having secured an admission of liability, Kym negotiated with the Defendant to obtain an interim payment to enable Mrs C to pay for an intensive and prolonged course of physiotherapy. This was following a recommendation by an independent physiotherapy expert who had been instructed to advise on the case, and thankfully, the therapy further improved Mrs C's condition.
At the time of her accident, Mrs C had been training to become a support worker. She was unable to work in any capacity for a prolonged period because of her injuries, but eventually was able to undertake some voluntary work. She then began a university degree in 2015, which she hopes will eventually enable her to return to support work. Mrs C continues to be reliant on strong pain relief medication and struggles with many household tasks, especially cooking. Her children effectively acted as her carers for several years and she depends upon family and friends for help with shopping. A care expert instructed in the case and recommended a number of pieces of additional equipment, which will help to improve Mrs C's level of independence.
After some negotiation, settlement of Mrs C's claim was agreed for a little over £100,000. This will help to support her over the coming years whilst she is re-training, enable her to purchase recommended equipment, pay for help around the house relieving her children of this task and to continue with the beneficial physiotherapy in the longer term. Mrs C is now able to be more optimistic about her future.
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