Moving on from musculoskeletal medical negligence
For non-disabled people, mobility is something easily taken for granted. Just get up and go without a second thought or worry about any barriers in society. But what would happen if your freedom and independence were suddenly taken away from you in the blink of an eye. Moreover, what if those life-changing injuries were the result of medical errors.
If you are one of the 6.8 million people in the UK with a mobility impairment, you will know the impact it has on your life. Losing your ability to walk, the use of your limbs or having reduced movement – whether temporary or permanently – is terrifying.
No matter the severity of your reduced mobility, the physical effects are significant. But so too is the emotional impact. Nobody can be prepared for it. If you are thrust into this unfamiliar territory, there may be a mix of feelings including anger, sorrow, anxiety, self-blame, disbelief, fear, guilt, panic, denial, and vulnerability. People who lose their mobility quite suddenly may also feel a loss of identity as a result of not being able to do the things they could before their injury and becoming reliant on other people for help with day-to-day tasks. Income may also reduce if your impairment means you are unable to work.
If your mobility impairment is due to medical negligence, such as misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment or surgical errors, these feelings may then be augmented with exasperation that your injuries could have been prevented had you not received substandard medical care.
Can I make a medical negligence claim for my impaired mobility?
While it takes time to adjust and adapt after injury, both physically and mentally, focusing on your ability, capabilities and future possibilities may help you to rebuild your life and regain your independence. While we at Medical Solicitors cannot undo the damage caused to you, we can help you receive justice for your injuries.
Financial compensation awarded from a clinical negligence claim could improve your quality of life and any monies received means you can focus on doing rehabilitation without financial worries hanging over you. This could be to fund private rehabilitation to improve your mobility, especially if you’ve been told you’ve plateaued in your progress through NHS rehabilitation. It could also pay for or refund you for any adaptations at home to enable you to live more comfortably during your rehabilitation. Financial support may also help you purchase mobility aids, orthotics or prosthesis too.
Below are just some of the musculoskeletal conditions medical negligence claims can be made against. We also provide support for people with neurological disorders or brain injuries, such as stroke, cerebral palsy, and arterio-venous malformations, which were caused by medical failures and which have resulted in loss of mobility.
Serious limb damage can lead to amputation, the results of which are life changing. Coming to terms with losing a limb is never easy. But what always surprises us at Medical Solicitors is that the attitude of our medical negligence amputee clients is quite frankly remarkable. They are strong and unwavering in their fight for justice.
The very first case we settled here at Medical Solicitors was an amputation claim. Our client was a gentleman in his golden years, a WWII veteran and widower, who had had an above-knee amputation in his mid-80s.
Just before Christmas in 2004, he felt a sudden pain in his leg and phoned his GP the next morning who diagnosed sciatica and prescribed painkillers. On Boxing Day, he fell over and was admitted to hospital with severe leg compression. Two days later his leg was amputated. His GP had failed to spot a clot in his leg which was restricting blood flow; vascular surgeons agreed that if our client had been referred for immediate hospital treatment at the time of original examination, then his leg would have been saved.
We agreed a six-figure settlement literally at the court doors which covered pain and suffering for the loss of his leg, rehousing costs due to him needing ground-floor accommodation, as well as future care and aids and equipment necessary to regain some independence.
You may have an amputation claim if it occurred due to medical mistakes including:
- Negligent surgery during operation
- Failure to recognise reduced blood supply to limb/digit
- Failure to refer for surgery in time to prevent amputation
- Poor diabetic care
- Infected wound
- Sepsis or meningitis complications due to delays or improper care
- Amputation of the wrong limb
Damages for amputation can accrue into very large settlements, particularly for younger work-age victims who will lose considerable earnings as a result. Financial losses also include:
- Home improvements and adaptations
- Support/care at home
- Private rehabilitation
- Medical expenses
- Adapted vehicles/additional transport costs
Artificial limbs and prosthetics provided by the NHS are not always adequate, particularly if previously you led a very active lifestyle. Compensation awarded usually factors in the need to purchase better quality, more sophisticated and higher functioning prosthesis which can be expensive and beyond the reach of most people without financial support.
Cauda Equina Syndrome Claims
Unless you or someone close to you has been affected by Cauda Equina Syndrome, you’ve probably never heard of it. It is so rare that only 400-600 people are diagnosed each year. However, it is a medical emergency which needs urgent surgery within 48 hours to prevent permanent injury or paralysis.
The condition happens when nerves at the bottom of the spine (Cauda Equina is Latin for horse’s tail) become compressed, usually due to disc damage. Causes may be:
- Accidents which crush the spine – falls or RTAs
- Complications from spinal anaesthetic and epidurals
- Blood clots
- Cancer complications
- Medicinal side effects
- Penetrative injury to the spine
One of the main red flag signs of spinal compression is loss of feeling or tingling in the genital or perineal area. Other indicators are severe lower back pain, incontinence of the bladder or bowel, difficulty walking, and weak ankle function. These symptoms should alert a GP or medical professional to act quickly to improve the chance of a full recovery; failure to do so within the 48-hour time frame can be catastrophic.
We have successfully won cases for various clients who have suffered from cauda equina syndrome. One such case was that of a 35-year-old man whose back injury was dismissed at A&E and who subsequently underwent emergency decompression surgery for progressive cauda equina syndrome a few days later. Part liability was admitted on the basis that failure to initially recognise/treat the condition resulted in injury; however, they disagreed delay caused immobility. Nonetheless, a settlement of £3.4 million was agreed pre-trial.
Orthopaedic Surgery Claims
Joint replacement surgery is fairly common, with over 160,000 procedures undertaken in the UK every year. Replacing a damaged or diseased joint, such as a knee or hip, with an artificial counterpart is supposed to resolve any mobility problems a patient had been having. However, mistakes can happen which can sometimes lead to further mobility issues, injury or discomfort.
Whilst a common procedure, joint surgery is still major invasive surgery with risks attached, including:
- Reaction to anaesthetic
- Infection of the wound
- Excessive bleeding or clots
- Nerve damage
- Scar tissue
- Limited range of movement
For most people, risk is minimal, around 3 percent, increasing to 20 percent if you are older, overweight, diabetic, a smoker or drug user, or have had previous or repeated surgery. Before any surgery of this kind, you should always be made aware of the risks to your health. If any of the above happens to you following treatment, it is not necessarily due to medical negligence; however, failure to make you aware of said risks is negligent practice.
Other medical malpractices relating to joint replacement surgery that could lead to injury are:
- Delay is diagnosis and treatment, leading to weakened joints
- Failure to check implant is in the correct position
- Excess force used in surgery which leads to fractures
- Faulty/wrong device fitted
- Excess bone/tissue removal
- Premature surgery – other options not discussed
- Complications following surgery, such as infection etc
Physical repercussions of failed surgery could be minor, or they could seriously affect your life. We recovered £20,000 damages for an elderly man who went into hospital for bilateral knee replacement surgery and, two years later, was diagnosed with having suffered a rotator cuff tear to his shoulder as a result of excessive force by a nurse.
When joint replacement surgery fails, you may feel unduly let down and disheartened at the thought of needing further surgery. For one of our clients, a 74-year-old woman, she waited five years to have failed hip replacement surgery corrected. This left her with an infection, limited mobility and needing to undergo further medical procedures including a knee replacement due to her impaired ability to walk. She received £430,000 for her suffering.
Another client, a lady aged 61, was awarded £620,000 after having both incompetent and the wrong type of knee replacement surgery. Post-operative checks were insufficient, leading to her being discharged in immense pain which resulted in four further surgeries, chronic pain and use of a wheelchair and walking aids.