We have been acting for a delightful elderly gentlemen (now aged 87) in connection with medical negligence claim against Cheltenham General Hospital.
Briefly, our client was seen by a consultant at the hospital in December 2015 as he needed to be treated for ongoing triggering of the right little finger/right thumb and severe arthritis. He was advised to have an operation to release the trigger digits, and an injection of the right wrist. In April 2016 he was admitted to hospital for this treatment. The right wrist joint was injected in a consulting room. He was then taken into an operating theatre to have the operation for the triggering digits. Our client emphasised the following points regarding the injection:
- Neither the consultant nor his assistant were seen to wash their hands.
- Papers, a pen, and other items were handled prior to the administration of the injection.
- The needle and syringe were passed to the consultant by the assistant handing them directly to him, so that they were not in a ‘sterile dish’.
- Our client did not see the needle or syringe being unpacked and then used.
- He was not swabbed prior to the injection.
- Neither the consultant or his assistant wore surgical gloves.
It was our case that the injection could and should have taken place under sterile conditions in the operating theatre.
Our client went home later that day but he had to be readmitted to hospital five days later, with a painful swollen right wrist. He was constitutionally ill. He was diagnosed with staphylococcus aureus.
He then underwent three operations under general anaesthetic to remove pus from the right wrist. The first operation took place on the day after admission. Intravenous antibiotics were administered. He was on oral antibiotics for four weeks after this admission.
Our medical expert confirmed in his report that the alleged negligent treatment had caused a decline in the condition of our client’s right hand/wrist in that he had now reached his current status 18 months sooner than otherwise so his claim was limited to avoidable pain and suffering for this 18 month period.
Our criticisms of the hospital
The hospital was under a duty to use an aseptic technique for the injection, which would have involved:
- Skin preparation using a cleansing fluid;
- Hand washing and/or decontamination by the surgeon;
- Use of sterile needle, syringe and fluid.
When aseptic technique is applied, infections following injections are an extremely rare event.
Our client was at a particularly high risk of adverse consequences in the event of his previous medical history and age.
We were critical of the care which he received at the hospital during April 2016 in that the staff:-
- Failed to prepare the skin at the site of the injection using a cleansing fluid;
- Failed to decontaminate hands and/or don sterile gloves immediately prior to carrying out the injection;
- Failed to use a sterile needle, failing to remove the needle from its sterile packaging immediately prior to the injection;
- Touched his skin and other objects prior to the injection and without subsequently decontaminating their hands;
- Used a needle which was already removed from its sterile packaging and was lying in a tray which he was carrying when he first entered the cubicle.
- Wiped the site of the injection with non-sterile cotton wool after the injection.
- Generally provided him with substandard care and failed to take due care of him.
The Hospital Trust denied liability in this case. They contended that this infection was a recognisable risk of the procedure which our client had consented to.
Correspondence was exchanged between our firm and the lawyers acting for the Hospital Trust and we were able to successfully conclude this case for our client without the need to issue proceedings.
S J Edney solicitors obtained compensation of £18,000.00 for this client during 2018