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Orthopaedic Injury Claim Against Hospital Successfully Concluded

30 June 2014

James Bell's client was in Pisa, Italy on holiday. His client fell from a wall and landed badly causing a severe injury to the right elbow. Initially, his client attended a hospital in Pisa and underwent tests and x rays where it was noted that the elbow was broken in a number of places. James' client decided to return to the UK to have the procedure carried out in London.

Shortly after returning home James' client attended the Royal Free. His client went to the A&E Department and was sent to the Orthopaedic Team. X-rays were performed and James client was then moved into a room as an admitted patient. 

James' client advised the Doctors and Nurses that he had private medical insurance and wished to utilise this for the operation. At all times he explained to all Doctors and Nurses that he had private medical insurance and that he wished to speak to his surgeon prior to the operation. He again raised the issue regarding private medical insurance as the surgery was due to be undertaken. The Surgeon seemed offended by this statement, so James' client felt pressurised in agreeing to have the operation done under the NHS. James' client could not recall what was mentioned regarding the risks of the operation. He was aware that the operation might not succeed, but he cannot recall any specific risks being mentioned. 

After the procedure, he recovered from the general anaesthetic. He was informed that his arm was going to be in a cast for three weeks and he would return after two weeks for a further x-ray. He was discharged from hospital and returned two weeks later. He was informed that the injury was fine and another cast was put on. One week later, he attended a Physiotherapist. At this point he was having extreme trouble in moving his elbow and could not move his hand from side to side to any great degree. 
 
When he attended physiotherapy, the therapist said that he did not think his arm was heeling correctly and that he should return to the Royal Free. At seven weeks post operation, he returned to the Royal Free. Another x-ray was taken and he had his second meeting with an Orthopaedic Doctor. He explained the restrictions he was experiencing and he was advised that this was normal and would need to come back in a few months. When he returned to his Physiotherapist, he was advised to obtain a second opinion on his recovery. He made an appointment with Mr W at the hospital of St John and St Elizabeth.  Mr W advised that having his arm in a cast for three weeks after the procedure was not appropriate and he believed the screws used were too long.

Following a CT scan it was found that several screws were eroding the radius and were too long for the purpose served. As a result, Mr W proposed to remove all the metal work and James' client was scheduled for an operation on 30th August 2011. He was in hospital for a total of one week and spent a lot of time with Physiotherapists to ensure motion returned to the limb. He returned for a further procedure on 30th September 2011 so Mr W could perform a manipulation and anaesthetic. 
 
It was James' clients assertion that the original procedure was carried out negligently with inappropriate equipment being used and the post operative care was inadequate. Analysis of the records revealed that the procedure was carried out by an unsupervised trainee.
 
The Defendant was put on notice of the intended claim for damages on 21st June 2012. No response was received until 10th October 2012 when the Defendant requested an extension to 11th January 2013 to complete their investigations. This delay caused a significant increase in costs and it appeared that the NHS LA instructed Solicitors after they were contacted in October, but had done very little to progress the claim for four months prior.
 
In order to establish the full nature and extent of his clients suffering, James made arrangements for medical records to be obtained. Thereon, a medical report was produced by Mr S, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. Mr S was also asked to prepare a condition and prognosis report. Medical evidence was disclosed to the Defendant on 9th May 2013. Proceedings were issued on 2nd May 2013 as the Defendant had failed to respond to any correspondence. 
 
On 13th May 2013 the Defendant conceded liability and admitted causation in this matter. On 10th June 2013, the Defendant put forward a low Part 36 Offer. Following negotiations, the Defendant put forward an increased offer which was accepted by James' client on 28th June 2013.

James Bell is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

If you feel that you or a member of your family may have an Orthopaedic Injury Claim, contact Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation and we'll be happy to help you.

Call our Clinical & Medical Negligence Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.