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 notwithstanding 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 done until 16 days after. 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 delay in diagnosis meant the damage caused to the cord could not be reversed and he has been left with permanent disability on his right side meaning he could no longer work and required care. His claim settled for £700,000.00.
Sara Westwood acted for the client. Having previously practised at Morgan Jones Pett, Sara now works with the Hatch Brenner Solicitors 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, also known as a tummy tuck. This form of cosmetic surgery improves the appearance of your abdomen and involves removing excess skin and fat, as well as tightening the abdominal muscles.
LB therefore decided to pay for it herself and following extensive research she chose to approach The Hospital Group who had several clinics around the UK and 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 then at home my condition deteriorated rapidly.’
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 where they strip away infected cells) could be performed. It was a truly terrible experience.’ Eventually her condition improved so that she was able to have reconstruction 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 whilst 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 for her to pursue.
LB’s legal team worked hard to pursue her case against The Hospital Group who eventually agreed to pay her some, but not all, of the compensation she was entitled to. After two weeks of receiving her payment, The Hospital Group went into administration.
LB’s experience highlights the awareness that those contemplating this surgery need to have about 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, as in fact 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 blood supply to his extremities, had 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 to 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
The 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 in 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 help 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.
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Morgan Jones Pett have joined the Hatch Brenner Solicitors team.