Medical negligence claims cover a wide range of circumstances and complex issues. This year, Medical Solicitors has continued to see a rise in the number of new enquiries we are receiving each week from patients who believe they have been injured due to medical error

Our specialist team strives to help as many of these people as possible get the answers they are looking for. However, no two cases of medical negligence are the same. Therefore, we take the time to carefully consider each enquiry to decide whether there is a good chance of success. 

The team is made of up experienced legal professionals who all have different specialisms. We focus solely on medical negligence cases, a very in-depth and difficult area of the law that requires both legal and medical knowledge. But as a niche law firm, this means Medical Solicitors has high success rates in relation to reaching compensation settlements for clients.

Here are examples of recent medical negligence cases we have settled in 2022.

Surgical medical negligence cases

Substandard surgery leads to avoidable above-knee amputation – settled for £1.71 million

This case was settled by Christine Brown who reached a substantial settlement for a male client whose leg was amputated due to failures with the treatment of a dislocated knee.

The claimant ‘C’ had a left knee dislocation in December 2017 that was complicated by an associated injury to his popliteal artery. C should have been transferred to the vascular unit for immediate arterial repair followed by ACL construction.

However, there were unacceptable delays and sub-standard vascular surgery which led to critical limb ischaemia (lack of blood flow). There were also inappropriate and failed attempts to salvage the failed vascular repair by angioplasties. Two weeks after the initial injury, a decision was made to perform an above-knee amputation. C was given an unsatisfactory NHS prosthesis and needs full prosthetic rehabilitation. He has been unable to return to his previous employment as managing director of a recruitment company in the haulage industry. Reduction in mobility is likely and C will become increasingly dependent on a wheelchair with increased care needs and home adaptations required.

Failure to diagnose discitis following spinal surgery – settled for £530,000

This case was settled by Miriam Bi for a 48-year-old male claimant who developed discitis after spinal surgery for a slipped disc in 2015.  This is an infection in the spine.

Following the surgery in 2015, the claimant ‘C’ had severe lower back pain, stiffness and was struggling to walk. An MRI was requested by the surgeon. Before the scheduled scan, C fell at home and was admitted to hospital. Junior doctors questioned whether it could be discitis and the MRI scan results showed inflammation. The report concluded that a post-operative infection was very possible. But no biopsy was done to confirm or rule out infection.

Weeks later, a second MRI scan was requested which indicated the disc tissue was disintegrating. This later led to bone-on-bone impaction when another disc slipped. After eight months of severe pain without a diagnosis, C started a 12-week antibiotic course but saw no improvement. A third MRI scan was done and C was referred for pain management and discharged by the surgeon after being told nothing more could be done.

C has been unable to work since and the ongoing pain is affecting his quality of life and relationships. As well as general damages, the compensation included claims for loss of congenial employment, care costs, pain rehabilitation, psychiatric therapy, and adaptations to the home, car and mobility aids.

Incorrect treatment of anal abscess for Crohn’s patient – settled for £250,000

This case was settled by Louise Haslam for a client who was left incontinent after substandard surgical care during treatment for an anal abscess.

The claimant ‘C’, now in their 30s, has had Crohn’s disease since their teens and developed an abscess in the buttock cleft in 2015. This was drained at A&E and a course of antibiotics given, but it repeatedly returned another three times over a two-year period. An MRI was requested which showed a 10cm long fistulous tract. C underwent a seton insertion – a thin silicone string put into the tract – to allow the fistula to properly drain and heal. However, it wasn’t recorded whether this was tight or loose; Crohn’s patients shouldn’t have a tight seton.

C had terrible pain after the procedure and the wound began to leak brown fluid (the seton had been left tight and was cutting through the wound). C went to A&E due to the pain but was discharged without a review. An urgent referral was made by C’s GP and the seton was removed. An MRI showed the fistula had become more prominent and C needed anal dilation and was referred to physio for incontinence.

There were multiple failings with this case. C should have had an MRI at least a year before, which would have prevented the unnecessary abscess drainage. The surgery involving the seton was also performed below the standard of skill and care expected. There was also a failure to remove the seton earlier when C went to A&E.

Failure to complete kidney stone removal – settled for £54,000

This case was settled by Sarah Johnson for a client who endured three years of pain after failures to follow up on kidney stone removal treatment.

The claimant ‘C’ has a rare, congenital kidney disorder that results in regular kidney stones. In September 2017, they underwent a routine lithotripsy to break down some stones. C was meant to have it redone a few weeks later, but admin errors meant they were ‘lost’ to follow up.

After experiencing discomfort in his loin in August 2020, C sought medical advice and it was realised he never completed treatment from 2017. A stone had become stuck in their ureter, one kidney was found to have shrunk in size, and they had stones in the other. C’s kidneys were functioning at 82% and 18% and their small risk of kidney failure had doubled.

Failed breast expander after mastectomy - settled for £10,000

This claim was settled by Sonia Parkes for a young woman who was left in pain for six months after breast implants used in preventative reconstructive breast surgery deflated and needed removing and replacing.

The claimaint, 'C', had been diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene mutation aged 27 and underwent a double mastectomy followed by immediate reconstruction of the breasts. Acellular Dermal Matrices (ADM) were used to support the breast expanders. These empty implants should be be gradually filled with saline to stretch the skin before they are eventually replaced with a permanent implant. She was told they shouldn’t be left in for more than 18 months, however this was incorrect as they should only remain in situ for six months.

However, due to errors, the expanders were left in longer than 18 months and began to deflate. This was later found to have a hole in it during surgery to replace it. Another four months on, C found her other breast had lost volume. She then had both expanders replaced with permanent implants.

Had the expanders been removed within six months then the right-side expander would not have deflated., eliminating the need for further surgery.

Delayed diagnosis medical negligence cases

Delayed diagnosis of flesh-eating disease – settled for £550,000

This case was settled by Sarah Johnson for a 47-year-old client who has been left with permanent scarring and loss of mobility after delays in diagnosing and treating a nasty infection that was suspected to be necrotising fasciitis. This is a rare bacterial infection more commonly known as flesh-eating disease. The claimant had a leg wound that became necrotic. Delays with their medical treatment resulted in extensive tissue loss and scarring to lower leg as well as neuropathic pain.

The special damages included claims for past and future care, past and future loss of earnings, aids and equipment as well as help with gardening and DIY past and in future.

Delayed diagnosis of pulmonary embolism – settled for £245,000

This case was settled by Matthew Brown for a young female client who experienced failures to diagnose an extensive DVT in their leg. They have been left with breathlessness and a swollen and painful leg five years on from the injury.

The claimant ‘C’ restarted the contraceptive pill following the birth of her baby. She had no history of DVT/PE and had previously taken the pill for four years before the pregnancy. However, three weeks later C went to A&E with a crampy and stinging pain in thelower left abdomen (iliac fossa). A blood test was done and C was discharged with pelvic inflammatory disease, with an ultrasound advised. Three days later C returned to A&E with a discoloured and swollen leg and shortness of breath. She had an ultrasound on her leg and was admitted for observation. A CT pulmonary angiogram on her chest showed no evidence of pulmonary embolism, so she was discharged.

C’s whole leg became swollen and she developed a pain in her groin so she went to another hospital’s A&E department three days later. A CT scan showed extensive DVT in the left common internal and external iliac and common femoral veins. C has been left with permanent pain and some mobility issues.

Delayed diagnosis of melanoma – settled for £27,500

This case was settled by Sonia Parkes for a client who experienced a two-and-half year delay in diagnosing melanoma skin cancer after their GP failed to refer them for investigation on a changing mole.

The claimant ‘C’ first saw their GP in September 2014 after a long- standing mole on their left leg had grown and changed in shape and colour. At this point, the flat mole was 8mm. The plan was to make a referral to a GP with Specialist Interest (GPWSI) in Dermatology. However, this did not happen.

In May 2017, C returned to the GP practice and saw a different doctor who found the mole had grown by 2cm; C was referred to Dermatology urgently under the two-week wait suspected cancer pathway. The mole was removed and found to be superficial spreading melanoma. C would have needed surgery to remove the mole anyway but had to have wider excision surgery and skin grafting.

Orthopaedic medical negligence cases

Failed hip replacement surgery – settled for £55,000

This case was settled by Miriam Bi for a client who experienced substandard hip replacement surgery in 2012. The wrong size stem was used which meant the claimant ‘C’ experienced years of pain and required a second hip replacement surgery.

For a couple of years after the operation, C complained that their left hip was making squeaking and clunking noises when they walked and it felt unstable. C was constantly reassured that everything was fine.

In 2016, C went to their GP as was struggling to walk without immense pain which was also affecting their sleep. C was referred back to hospital and was told they’d need revision surgery. An x-ray showed the hip was slightly vertical and an MRI confirmed the stem was undersized. Aspiration of the hip was done which drew out 30mls of black fluid; C was told they had a pseudotumor (false tumour) and some degree of necrosis due to the malposition of the artificial hip joint. Despite this, revision surgery did not take place until February 2018.

Failed knee replacement surgery – settled for £35,000

This case was settled by Louise Haslam for a client in their 60s who needed a second total knee replacement due to failures to spot complications following the initial surgery.

The claimant ‘C’ first had knee replacement surgery in December 2017, but continually complained of a grinding sensation and pain at both physiotherapy sessions and follow-up appointments at the orthopaedic out-patient clinic.

It wasn’t until March 2019 that an X-ray was performed which noted the polyethylene (PE) was wearing and C had heterotopic ossification, where bone tissue develops in the muscles and soft tissue.

C had their knee replaced for a second time in April 2019. C argued that, had the x-ray been performed a year earlier, they could have just had the PE replaced rather than the total knee replacement surgery. C has been left with permanent reduced movement in their knee and pain when walking.

Fatal medical negligence cases

Delay in diagnosing lung cancer – settled for £78,000

This case was settled by Miriam Bi on behalf of the estate of the deceased who died of lung cancer. The deceased had an abnormal chest x-ray and CT scan and thereafter underwent treatment for COPD. Miriam argued that with an earlier diagnosis, the deceased would have undergone curative treatment.

Failures with epilepsy treatment – settled for £35,000

This case was settled by Miriam Bi on behalf of the estate of a 25-year-old who died following an epileptic seizure after having an epilepsy diagnosis retracted.

The deceased ‘D’ had been having seizures for four years before their death in 2018. A neurologist had originally diagnosed D with epilepsy based on the specific features of her seizures which included tongue biting. However, this was changed to non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD) and epilepsy medication withdrawn. The seizures got worse and eventually lead to a fatal seizure.

Newborn died due to delays in diagnosing and treating thrush – settled for £25,000

This case was settled by Sarah Johnson for the parents of a premature baby who died at 13 days old from sepsis. This was caused by delays to diagnose and treat a fungal infection at birth. The mother had received treatment for thrush during her pregnancy. At 29 weeks gestation, she went into premature labour and the baby was born via caesarean section. A high vaginal swab was taken which detected a yeast infection. However, the results weren’t given to the neonatal team until too late.

The baby needed assisted breathing for three days and then started antibiotics following a partial screening for sepsis. The parents were told their baby would be fit for discharge at two weeks old. But at nine days old the baby started with hiccups that were later diagnosed as seizures. Twelve days after birth, microbiology advised the baby’s blood was positive for yeast and anti-fungal treatment was started. Sadly, the following day the baby was pronounced brain dead and the decision was made to withdraw life support.

Delay in treating bowel perforation – settled for £15,000

This case was settled by Miriam Bi for the estate of a patient who died after experiencing delays to treating bowel perforation. The deceased ‘D’ had long-term issues with diverticulitis which is inflammation or infection of the large intestine.

In October 2019, D had a CT colonoscopy which indicated urgent attention was required. However, there was a failure to offer surgical and nutritional assessment, as well as delays in arranging and performing a sigmoidoscopy, a diagnostic test on the colon. When it was eventually done, it was reported that D was suffering with severe diverticulitis and had a stricture in their bowel. Unfortunately, D’s condition deteriorated and they were admitted and treated for heart failure.

By August 2020, the diverticulitis had led to a bowel perforation visible on a CT scan. There was a failure to provide surgical/medical assessment and surgical intervention to treat the perforation. Miriam alleged the delays caused the death. She represented the family at Inquest and obtained expert evidence.

 

These are just some examples of the medical negligence payouts our clients have received in 2022. We predict that 2023 will be another busy year for the Medical Solicitors team as they continue to seek justic for their clients who have been harmed due to errors with their medical care. Our specialist solicitors care about giving the best legal advice and the highest standards of client care which is backed up by our 5 star reviews and testimonials from clients.

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Our surgery claims expert:

Caroline Moore

Managing Director/Head of Sheffield Office