A 54-year-old lady received an out of court settlement of £840,405.45 for undergoing the wrong spinal surgery. She was expecting to undergo removal of her right cervical rib. In error, parts of her lowest vertebrae in her neck , C7 were removed causing neck instability, damage to her spinal cord, brachial plexus and temporary tetraplegia. She suffered permanent loss of sensation in her right hand and arm, pain and right sided weakness, lower limb weakness causing her mobility problems and both urinary and bowel problems. She could no longer work.
The claimant was 47 years old at the time of the alleged negligence. She was expecting surgery to remove her right cervical rib as this had been causing her a lot of discomfort. At the time she was employed part time as a cook in a café.
Unfortunately, the surgeon performed the wrong operation removing parts of her lowest cervical vertebrae. This caused her neck to be completely unstable. The defendant did admit liability.
As a consequence of the incorrect surgery, she suffered swelling of her spinal cord and a leak of spinal cord fluid. Shortly after the operation she was tetraplegic. However, her condition improved. She was left with permanent generalised weakness in her lower limbs. This caused her mobility problems and difficulty managing stairs.
She also suffered the permanent loss of sensation, pain and hypersensitivity to her right arm and hand, as well as right-sided weakness.
She was left with urinary incontinence, including partial voiding and dribbling as well as altered sensation of bowels. She found it difficult to sense when she needed to go to the toilet.
She was unable to return to work and was no longer able to enjoy her past times of dancing and sports. Her life expectancy was not thought to have been affected
Although it was argued that she would have to live in ground floor accommodation, neurosurgical expert evidence supported that she would be able to continue living in her existing property with some adaptations.
Expert opinion was required from a number of specialities including neurosurgery, urology, psychiatry, care and occupational therapy and accommodation. Although liability was admitted, the case settled just shortly before a five day trial listed in the High court.
The breakdown of her compensation was as follows:
Pain and suffering/loss of amenity: £ £100,647.36
Future care needs: £400,000
Future equipment: £80,000
Future therapies and rehabilitation: £5000
Future housing costs: £100,000
Future loss of earnings: £60,000
Future cost of DIY/decorating: £10,000
Past losses: consisting of Past loss of earnings of £35,000 and Past care of £45,000