A woman has received £17,000 damages and a “profuse apology from a Hospital Trust after doctors left her in ‘agony’ with a broken hip for 10 weeks when missing the injury during examinations and tests.
The woman, who was 53 at the time, ended up having to have a full hip replacement when the break was eventually diagnosed, as by that time it had displaced and effectively died.
She took legal action through medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, leading to the apology and settlement from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs King’s Mill Hospital, in Derbyshire, where she was treated.
The woman, who has asked not to be named, had initially felt discomfort after lifting heavy boxes at work, and went to her GP, who initially diagnosed a pulled muscle.
Three weeks later she went to A&E at King’s Mill Hospital, as she was struggling to walk and was in agony, and was admitted for tests.
Patient ‘was not listened to’ by doctors
The patient claimed she told the doctors her pain wasn’t in her back, saying she ‘was not listened to’, resulting in an MRI being carried out on her spine, which did not detect anything abnormal.
She was then sent to the radiology department for a scan of her right leg, only for a radiologist to decide a scan wasn’t necessary, sending her back to be reviewed by an emergency department consultant.
The patient was finally discharged two days later without any follow-up appointments being made, despite still being unable to bear weight on her leg.
She was advised to see her GP if she had any more problems and had two sessions with a physiotherapist who said he thought it was her right hip, not her back, causing the problems.
When she went back to her GP 10 weeks later, on January 14, 2013, to get a sick note for work, the woman asked for a second opinion as she was still in agony and was sent to Ilkeston Hospital the same day.
There, an x-ray showed the broken hip, and the patient said medical staff compared the injury to that often seen after a fall or being involved in a car crash, describing is as appearing a ‘couple of months old’. She had a full hip replacement operation the next day.
Expert evidence secured as part of medical negligence claim
An independent Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon, consulted by Hudgell Solicitors as part of the compensation claim, said a timely and accurate diagnosis of the broken hip would have spared the patient from having major surgery, and could have been fixed with two or three screws.
He said: “Almost certainly this was some sort of stress fracture which could, in all probability, have been fixed with simple screws. As it was, there was a considerable delay in diagnosis together with the associated discomfort, which necessitated a total hip replacement.”
The surgeon also concluded that the patient may now need further hip surgery in around 20 years.
The woman said: “I feel pretty angry with the hospital, I couldn’t do anything for 10 weeks. I couldn’t work and I had to sleep in a chair as I couldn’t get comfortable lying down. I couldn’t even make it up the stairs. I was in absolute agony.”
Medical Negligence specialist Helena Wood: Decision not to scan was a ‘huge mistake’
Helena Wood, a medical negligence specialist at Hudgell Solicitors who handled the case, said: “Our client was left in total agony for 10 long weeks, unable to work or go about her daily life as a result of a very clear injury being missed.
“The radiologist’s decision not to scan her was clearly a huge mistake, as this error prevented the break being discovered and ultimately caused the delay in diagnosis which led to her needing a hip replacement at a young age.
“Having major surgery is clearly a very worrying and unfortunate outcome, and if the medical staff had listened to our client more carefully with regards to the extent and location of her pain, it would have been avoided.
“We are glad the Trust has now offered a profuse apology and agreed to compensate our client for her pain, suffering and loss.”