Recent Cases - Clinical Negligence
Dentist’s failure to recognise and treat periodontal disease
Our Client (aged 48) had been using the same dentist for an 11 year period. During that time, she developed severe gum disease but this was not recognised or adequately treated by her dentist nor was she referred on for more specialist treatment until it was too late. As a result of the delay, she required the extraction of upto five teeth, upto five dental implants (to replace the lost teeth) and maintenance treatment at three month intervals for the remainder of her lifetime. The Dentist admitted that the care had fallen below an acceptable standard but alleged that our client would not lose all five teeth and that, as an ex-smoker, she would have suffered some periodontal disease in any event. Court proceedings were issued, but we were able to settle the claim out of Court.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £47,500.00 for this client during 2014
Fragment of a surgical instrument left in a patient
We acted for a client (aged 59) who underwent a bilateral knee arthroscopy during August 2006 at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. During the course of the surgery, the tip of a surgical blade broke off and migrated into the back of his left knee joint. The surgeon was unable to retrieve this tip and it was then left in his knee until 2012 when another doctor said that it should be removed as it presented a potential danger. Following surgery to remove the fragment, he made a full recovery from this episode. It was our case that the surgical blade should not have broken in the first place without there being negligence on the part of the surgeon and it should have been removed in 2006 and not 2012. We felt that breaking a surgical instrument and leaving a fragment behind within a patient amounted to a “never event”. The Hospital disagreed and denied liability and also argued that our client’s claim was time barred in that he should have issued proceedings by no later than 2009 ie. the 3 year anniversary of the alleged negligence. Proceedings were issued and a Defence was filed by the Hospital Trust which maintained their earlier position. Nevertheless, their solicitors made an early offer to settle our client’s claim which he was happy with.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £10,000.00 for this client during 2014
Bad care at hospital resulting in a DVT
Another client of ours (aged 42) was unhappy with treatment which he received at the Royal United Hospital in Bath during 2009 and 2012. His complaint can be summarised as follows:-
- Firstly, during a routine varicose vein surgery in February 2009, adequate precautions were not taken to prevent him from later developing a deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and a pulmonary embolus (PE);
- and secondly, on his further admission during 2012 with back and leg pain following an accident at work, once again, adequate precautions to counter deep venous thrombosis were not taken and he developed a second DVT.
He now suffers from a post thrombotic syndrome of the left leg characterised by swelling, secondary varicose veins and well established skin changes of chronic venous insufficiency. He is at significantly greater risk of further DVT’s (and PE’s). He will also need to wear knee length stockings every day. He has had to stop work as a lorry driver. He will find it difficult to find sedentary office type work.
This was a complicated case to value as our client also had an unrelated serious back problem caused by his accident at work which also prevented him from returning to work. A letter of claim was submitted to the Hospital Trust and liability was disputed. Proceedings had to be issued and in a Defence filed by their solicitors, they disputed liability for the alleged 2009 negligence but accepted liability for the 2012 negligence.
Our client was understandably anxious to resolve this case and after discussions with the Hospital Trust’s solicitors, we were able to agree upon a settlement figure which he was happy with.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £50,000.00 for this client during 2014
Loss of a husband
We acted for a client following the death of her husband whilst an inpatient at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. Her husband (aged 71) had been admitted to the hospital for a laparoscopic right hemi-colectomy. Following that surgery, in December 2011, he was then transferred to ICU. There was then a failure to monitor him appropriately, and he suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of an internal bleed to the duodenal ulcer. It was our case that the bleeding should have been detected with competent management and treated with blood transfusion before the cause of the bleeding was found and treated. If this had happened we believe that her husband would have survived. The Health Service Ombudsman looked into what happened at the hospital and in their report had highlighted a number of “service failures” in how the deceased had been treated. A letter of claim was submitted on behalf of our client to the Hospital Trust and they accepted liability for his death. Shortly afterwards, we were able to negotiate a settlement on her behalf which included a claim for loss of financial dependency (as a consequence of his death her state pension would now be less).
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £41,250.00 for this client during 2014
On the 16 October 2011, one of our clients was gardening with his parents at their home when a thorn went into his right ring finger. He attended the A & E department at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire. Due to his ongoing pain in this finger he was later referred by the hospital to their Fracture Clinic. He saw one of the Associates in Trauma and Orthopaedics on the 9 November 2011. He returned to the A & E department on the 8 December 2011 as the pain in his finger was continuing. He had an x-ray and scan which showed that he had a lesion in this finger caused by a foreign body. He underwent surgery on the 9 February 2012 to remove this foreign body but the surgeon inadvertently operated on his right middle finger by mistake. On realising his error, he stopped and then proceeded to operate on the injured right ring finger. Our client was critical of the care which he received at the hospital in that he was left with avoidable ongoing residual symptoms in his right middle finger which impacted on his life for a period of time. This was a strong case on its merits as this type of injury should not occur (ie. it is what doctors call a “never event”). Our independent expert agreed and in his opinion by about April 2014, he should be fully recovered from this episode. A letter of claim was submitted to the Hospital Trust and after protracted negotiations, we were able to agree upon a settlement figure for our client which included a claim for partial loss of earnings.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £15,000.00 for this client during 2014
Failure to diagnose deep seated infection in right ankle
We acted for a client (now aged 65) who was unhappy with treatment which he received at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon during December 2009. Briefly, he fractured his right ankle in an accident at work during November 2009. He was treated for this injury at the hospital and required surgery when some metalwork was fitted to help fix the fracture. He was then discharged home. He re-attended the hospital during December 2009 complaining of pain, a swollen ankle and an inability to weight-bear. It was our case that the hospital should have considered that he was suffering from a deep seated infection in his ankle and if this had been treated in December 2009 it would have eradicated the infection. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and the infection was not diagnosed and treated by the hospital until the end of January 2010. Antibiotics were commenced at this time but unfortunately for our client he was given a very high dosage of Gentamicin for a 4 week period (which we say was far too long) and this mistake resulted in induced hearing loss in both his ears.
As a consequence of this sub-standard care, our client is now left with additional pain in his right ankle, a significant reduction in his mobility and an unnecessary hearing loss in both ears. He had been unable to return to work and he had planned to work beyond retirement age so there was a claim for loss of earnings. A formal letter of claim was sent to the Hospital Trust but in their response they denied any liability. Proceedings had to be issued at Court and in their Defence, they reconsidered their position and accepted liability. Their solicitors made an early offer to settle our client’s claim for £100,000.00 which we advised him to reject. We continued with our negotiations and we were eventually able to achieve a much improved settlement for him.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £175,000.00 for this client during 2013
Skin graft error
We acted for a delightful client (aged 77) who was unhappy with medical treatment which she received at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex during September 2012. Briefly, she had been admitted to this hospital following an accident at home when she injured her left shin causing her to suffer a nasty laceration. Shortly afterwards, she underwent a debridement and skin graft operation on her shin at the hospital. During the course of the surgery, an excessive thick skin graft was raised from her left lateral thigh and had to be re-stitched. This was due to faulty equipment. The new skin graft then had to be harvested from another part of her thigh and applied to the wound on her shin. Unfortunately, the original skin graft became infected and was slow to heal and has left her with some intermittent pain. She also had another unnecessary scar on her leg which will now be permanent. A letter of claim was submitted to the hospital and they accepted liability in full for what happened. There was a dispute on quantum but the parties were eventually able to agree upon a settlement.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £6,250.00 for this client during 2013
Failure to repair a hernia
We acted for a client (aged 52) who was unhappy with treatment which he received from Shepton Mallet Treatment Centre (SMTC) during April 2009. Briefly, he had become aware of a lump in his right groin. He was told by his GP that he had a right inguinal hernia and was referred to the SMTC for its repair. On the 30 April 2009, he underwent an operation, which involved the fitting of a piece of mesh to repair the hernia. Later, he became aware of a lump in his right groin and he was advised that the hernia had returned. He was reluctant to undergo further surgery to the hernia and so he lived with his symptoms until March 2012, when at the Bath Clinic he underwent a further surgical procedure to repair his hernia. The original operation note was not entirely legible but it suggested that the original repair mesh had not been applied correctly. After writing to SMTC they accepted that our client had not received treatment to an acceptable standard. We then agreed a settlement figure.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £10,000.00 for this client during 2013
Injury to the middle finger
We acted for a client (aged 55) who was unhappy with treatment which she received at the Great Western Hospital during 2011. Briefly, she had been complaining of swelling on her left middle finger and was on the waiting list for a mucus cyst excision. During February 2011, she underwent day surgery to remove the cyst under a local anaesthetic. This procedure was performed by a registrar and during it some damage was caused to one of her tendons and she then needed a K-wire to be inserted into the finger. This resulted in her being left with a stiff finger which was now drooping downwards at its end. Fortunately, this injury did not impact upon on her ability to work but it did stop her from doing some of the heavier household chores at home. It was our case that the excision procedure had been sub-standard and a letter of claim was sent to the Hospital Trust. They denied liability and argued that his type of damage was a rare but recognised and non negligent complication of this surgery. We disagreed and we issued proceedings on behalf of our client at Swindon County Court. Once solicitors were appointed by the Hospital Trust, we were able to agree upon a settlement for our client which took into account the litigation risk.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £8,500.00 for this client during 2013
Plastic Surgeon’s negligence
One of our clients (now aged 39) was unhappy with private treatment which she received from a plastic surgeon in London. Briefly, she had agreed to undergo a bilateral breast reduction operation during August 2010. She was told that both her breasts would be lifted and reduced in size. Following this procedure, there was no real evidence that she had in fact had a breast reduction. The photographs available made it fairly clear that there was very little difference in their size. Our independent expert was very critical of her plastic surgeon who seemed to be in denial about his failure to carry out the reduction. A letter of claim was sent to him and this was passed to his Medical Defence Union who, in turn, appointed solicitors. Eventually, we were able to agree a settlement whereby our client received damages which included a sum of money to enable the correct breast reduction surgery to be performed.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £25,000.00 for this client during 2013
Unnecessary partial amputation of a 4th toe
We acted for our client (now aged 51) who had been unhappy with treatment which he received at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. He had an underlying medical condition of rheumatoid arthritis which afflicted both his feet. During January 2010, he underwent an operation on his left foot at the hospital. His 4th toe then became ischaemic, gangrenous and subsequently required a partial amputation. Our independent orthopaedic expert was very critical of the treatment which he had received. A number of allegations of negligence were made which included the surgery being inappropriate and unnecessary and it had been poor technique on the part of the surgeon which resulted in the blood supply to the 4th toe becoming compromised. When this problem had been identified, it was too late to save his toe. A letter of claim was sent to the Hospital Trust and liability was disputed. Proceedings had to be issued at Swindon County Court and shortly after the Hospital Trust had appointed solicitors, the parties were able to reach a compromise.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £20,000.00 for this client during 2013
We acted for a client who was unhappy with the medical treatment which she received during June 2008 when he was aged 53. Briefly, he had been complaining of ongoing back and sciatic pain since May 2008 and his GP referred him to the Back Clinic at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon where he was examined by a Clinical Physiotherapist employed by Swindon PCT. Our client had been systematically unwell and in particular, was complaining of a number of “red flag” symptoms which included poor appetite, dramatic weight loss, dark urine and an inability to sit for long periods. It was our case that he should have been referred immediately at this time to a doctor for further investigation. The physiotherapist referred him for an MRI scan to be arranged later on.
During August 2008, he suffered a stroke which was found to be secondary to a condition called streptococcal mitral valve endocarditis. This has now left him with a significant disability and he had a substantial claim for loss of earnings, care, equipment, therapies and accommodation. It was our case that:-
- if he had been referred to a doctor immediately during June 2008 this would have resulted in an early diagnosis of endocarditis;
- this condition could then have been treated with antibiotics which, in turn, would have avoided his stroke during August 2008.
A letter of claim was sent to Swindon PCT who initially denied liability. Proceedings had to be issued in the High Court. On filing a Defence, they admitted liability and shortly before this matter had been listed for trial, a settlement was reached between the parties.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £835,000.00 for this client during 2013
We acted for a woman (aged 70) who was unhappy with treatment which she received from her dentist in Cheltenham. She had been one of his patients from 1997 up until 2010. She was critical of her dentist in that she believed she was subject to a very poor standard of dental care during this period and as a consequence 22 of her teeth were damaged. It was our case that if she had been treated correctly this damage could have been avoided. A letter of claim was sent to her dentist and after some correspondence with his Dental Defence Union we were able to settle her claim.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £33,000.00 for this client during 2013
ENT Surgeon’s negligence
One of our clients (aged 54 at the time) was unhappy with medical treatment which she received at the Shepton Mallett Treatment Centre (SMTC) during May 2011. The treatment was a bilateral endoscopic sinus surgery with a nasal polypectomy and septoplasty. It is standard practice to have a CT scan prior to such surgery to assess the pathology and get a clearer understanding of the patient’s bone anatomy. In this particular case, our client was in a vulnerable position, as she had left sided amblyopia (or a lazy eye) which left her particularly dependent upon her right sided vision.
Following this surgery, our client had significant impairment of her right sided vision. This was investigated with a further CT scan in June 2011 which showed an obvious dehiscence of the lamina papyracea and entrapment of the medical rectus muscle. This damage had not been present on the pre-operative CT scan. Following a letter of claim from our firm, SMTC accepted:-
- the damage had occurred during the surgery and
- to cause this damage had been negligent.
This negligence now caused a number of problems for our client’s right good eye in that there was restriction in its movement, it was painful and she no longer felt it was safe to drive. As a consequence, she had to change jobs at work and do something which accommodated her disability. Her right eye was also unsightly.
Although, liability was conceded at an early stage, there was a significant difference between the parties in our valuation of our client’s claim. The solicitors acting for SMTC initially only offered to settle her claim for £26,000.00 which we advised her to reject. Subsequent protracted negotiations resulted in a much improved offer.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £145,000.00 for this client during 2013
Failure to renew a repeat prescription
We acted for a client (aged 32) who was unhappy with treatment which he received from a locum GP at his GP surgery in Swindon. Briefly, he had been diagnosed with epilepsy in 1999. In April 2008, his medication to help control this condition was changed. During August 2010, he e-mailed his GP surgery with a request for a repeat prescription of his medication. This was his usual method of obtaining his prescriptions. He was then contacted by a receptionist at the GP surgery who stated that a locum GP had refused to write a prescription as there were no records of his anti-epileptic medication. He would have to make an appointment with his GP but the earliest appointment available was not until after his stock of medicine had run out. Before he saw his GP he suffered an epileptic fit. Unfortunately, this resulted in him losing his driving licence and caused him to change jobs. His mental state also deteriorated. The solicitors acting for the locum GP denied liability. It was only when we threatened to issue proceedings on behalf of our client that the parties were able to reach a settlement.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £10,000.00 for this client during 2013