Cervical spine injury case study
‘My client suffered a collapse at home and, during the fall, sustained a heavy impact to the back of his neck. An ambulance was called and the paramedics noted he had a lot of neck pain and took the appropriate precautions to protect his neck with a collar and block. He was taken to hospital and had a CT scan of the head and neck.
This was reported as normal and the collar and block were removed even though he continued to complain of severe neck pain.
‘Over the course of the next few hours and days, his condition became progressively worse, beginning with reduced movement in the right arm, pins and needles, right arm and leg weakness and, by the following day, he was unable to pass urine.
‘Despite obvious signs there was a neurological problem, an MRI scan was not conducted until 16 days after the incident. This showed two bones in the spinal column, at neck level, had dislocated, causing pressure on the spinal cord.
‘My client underwent surgery but unfortunately, the delayed diagnosis meant the damage could not be reversed and he has been left with permanent disability on his right side meaning he can no longer work and requires ongoing care. His claim was settled for £700,000.’
Sara Westwood acted for the client. Having previously practised at Morgan Jones Pett, Sara now works with the Hatch Brenner team.
Cosmetic surgery case study
In 2004, our client (LB) was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Like many women with the condition, this led to weight gain and triggered excess androgen; ‘male hormones’ that caused her to develop excess facial and body hair. At just 26 years of age, and weighing 28 stone, LB felt robbed of her femininity and wanted to do something about it.
She went on a course of medication to treat her condition and embarked on a significant lifestyle change. By 2007 she had lost an incredible 15 stone. She marked each five-stone loss by having a tattoo.
As a consequence of the weight loss, LB was left with excess flesh, which the NHS was not prepared to remove by way of an abdominoplasty (‘tummy tuck'). This form of cosmetic surgery improves the appearance of the abdomen and involves the removal of excess skin and fat, as well as tightening abdominal muscles.
LB therefore decided to pay for it herself and, following extensive research, she chose to approach The Hospital Group. They had several clinics around the UK and LB chose to have her surgery carried out at Dolan Park Hospital in Birmingham.
Some pre-op tests carried out by The Hospital Group revealed that she had a higher than normal white blood cell count (she was fighting an infection), but she was advised that it was safe for her to have the surgery so it went ahead.
‘As soon as I came around from the surgery, I felt very ill. I experienced a crunching glass sensation in my belly and the tops of my legs. I was discharged home after just one day and my condition deteriorated rapidly at home.’
Within a few days, LB’s wound was giving off a terrible stench, and despite antibiotics and regular dressing of the surgical wound, she ended up back in hospital with sepsis.
‘I recall the doctor asking me if I was aware just how critical my condition was. I spent three weeks in hospital and then a further nine months living with an open wound so that debridement (a procedure to strip away infected cells) could be performed. It was a truly terrible experience.’
Eventually her condition improved so that she was able to have reconstructive surgery via the NHS.
The Hospital Group had been negligent by performing the surgery knowing that LB was suffering from an infection and she therefore looked to pursue a medical negligence case against them.
LB was shocked to learn that the cosmetic surgeon who performed her abdominoplasty had been brought in from Italy and hired by The Hospital Group on a ‘freelance’ basis. They argued that technically the surgeon was not employed by them and therefore any claim would need to be made against the surgeon personally. Further investigations by her lawyers revealed that although the surgeon was insured, his policy was Italian therefore LB would have to sue him in Italy and submit to Italian jurisdiction. The expense and complexities of this meant it was not a realistic option.
LB’s legal team worked hard to pursue her case against The Hospital Group who eventually agreed to pay some, but not all, of the compensation she was entitled to. Two weeks after receiving her payment, The Hospital Group went into administration.
LB’s experience highlights the importance of checking that cosmetic surgeons and organisations offering cosmetic procedures are properly insured. LB did ask The Hospital Group whether they were insured prior to having her surgery but they lied; their insurance only covered the hospital and employed staff, not contractors.
Failure to refer for treatment
Mr M, who had a pre-existing condition affecting the blood supply to his extremities, injured his left little finger in a door. He visited the A&E departments of two hospitals who both sent him away without a referral to a specialist or any treatment. As a result of the failure to refer him for treatment, the tip of the finger became gangrenous and was amputated.
Sara Westwood, formerly of Morgan Jones Pett in Norwich, assisted Mr M in making a claim and he received £7,500 in compensation.
Poor handling of a case by previous solicitors
Our client had instructed a firm of solicitors in respect of a claim for injuries he had sustained in a road traffic accident. Their handling of his case had been of a poor standard, particularly when meeting deadlines. Unfortunately missing one such deadline resulted in his case being struck out, meaning his case failed and entitled the defendant to claim their costs from him.
Sara Westwood, formerly of Morgan Jones Pett Solicitors, was instructed to bring a claim against those solicitors and a settlement was achieved which meant the defendant was paid their costs and the client received a sum of money to compensate him for the loss of his claim.
How we can help
Hatch Brenner helps clients with every type of medical negligence claim irrespective of size or complexity, treating each with the same level of importance – from brain injuries to simple missed fractures; cerebral palsy claims to cancer misdiagnosis.
To find out more about our expertise, please call 01603 660 811.
Please contact one of the team to discuss your specific requirements:
Morgan Jones Pett have joined the Hatch Brenner Solicitors team.
‘On behalf of the family I just wanted to say how grateful we are for all your hard work and diligence throughout dealing with Dad’s case. We are so appreciative of everything you have supported us with, your guidance and compassion has helped us all deal with an incredibly difficult period of our lives. We will be forever grateful for what you have done, thank you so much.’