Medical Negligence

£750,000 damages for patient whose earnings suffered after operation left him with hearing loss and balance problems

medical negligence compensation claim
chris-moore-hudgell-solicitors-1

Chris Moore

Senior Solicitor & Joint Head of Clinical Negligence

6 min read time

A patient has been awarded £750,000 damages as he has been left struggling to fulfil his work commitments due to suffering hearing loss, balance issues and concentration problems following an ear operation.

The damages reflected the significant impact on the man’s ability to continue running his own business, with his health issues leaving him struggling to multi-task and lead several major projects at once, as he had done prior to the surgery.

The patient had suffered from exostosis, a condition sometimes referred to as ‘surfer’s ear’, when a bone grows abnormally in the ear due to repeated exposure to cold water, causing repeated infections.

He was told any hearing loss after the operation would take no more than two to three weeks to clear, but suffered almost total hearing loss which has never improved since having the surgery in November 2015.

He also suffers from vertigo and tinnitus, which causes a high-pitched ringing noise in his ear.

As part of a legal claim against the NHS Trust which treated him, led by Hudgell Solicitors, it was alleged the trust breached its duty of care as the operation was not conducted by a surgeon of the experience the patient had expected.

The man was told the consultant who he’d expected to conduct the surgery – a national leader of the field in treating the condition – was not available, but that the operation would be conducted by someone of similar experience and qualifications.

This was not the case, as the surgery was carried out by a registrar who it was alleged performed the surgery to a substandard level.

Lack of consent and information on surgery highlighted in legal case

Solicitor Chris Moore, of Hudgell Solicitors, led the case and said the settlement reflected the impact the injuries had on his client’s ability to run a demanding business, with a forensic accountant consulted to estimate the future impact on his income.

“There were a number of elements to this case, but essentially the damages have been secured for our client largely to cover the loss of earnings expected to be suffered as a result of his injuries impacting on his abilities at work,” he said.

“Consent was a major issue in that the operation was conducted by a surgeon not of the level of experience and ability our client expected. This type of surgery poses a significant risk of damage to the eardrum, and therefore possible impact on future balance, and so it was only right that our client wanted reassurance over who was conducting the surgery when he was told the plan had changed.

“The change from a UK-leading surgeon to a registrar meant the whole consenting process was wholly inadequate. Our client was reassured the surgery would be performed by somebody of the same standard and level of ability as the surgeon he had expected, but when we asked for records training records and CVs, it was clear this had not been the case.

“His balance has been affected ever since, he has tinnitus, suffers from headaches and has difficulties concentrating, which has left him struggling to multi-task as is required in his job.

“He works in a demanding and competitive industry and was previously able to run a number of projects at once to ensure his business was as successful as it could be.

“Had our client been fully informed of the risks, and the lesser experience and ability of the surgeon performing the operation, he would not have gone ahead.”

Trust admitted breach of duty of care and agreed out of court settlement

The NHS Trust involved admitted it had breached its duty of care in relation to the standard of surgeon performing the operation, but denied that the surgery, in the way it had been performed, had been negligent.

The case was listed to go to trial in October of this year, but following a hearing between all parties, damages were agreed out of court.

Legal representatives of the Trust eventually agreed to the £750,000 settlement, having at one stage offered £200,000 to bring the matter to a resolution.

The patient said: “Since my operation there are many things I am now not able to do. I have to concentrate very hard to follow conversations because of my hearing loss, and this is particularly difficult at work.

“Whereas previously I was able to juggle three or four different projects at once, I now find that that is impossible for me to do. I have to focus really on one project at a time and have had to turn down a lot of jobs as a result. This has had a knock-on effect on my income and the profitability of my business.

“I enjoyed my work and always throw everything into everything I do, but the issues with the vertigo, my hearing loss and the tinnitus make it impossible for me to work to the level I was previously working.

“Even simple things such as walking down the street have become difficult as I have to concentrate a lot on where I am walking to avoid bumping into objects or people. I have disturbed sleep as a result of the tinnitus, and I’ve found that as a result of my problems I get frustrated much more easily than I used to.

“I am grumpier and shorter tempered as I get frustrated because of the things I cannot do and often feel quite low.”

Hudgell Solicitors instructed Howard Elgot, barrister at Parklane Plowden Chambers, to act on the case, supporting Mr Moore in making the case for a damages settlement.

“This is a good settlement for our client, particularly given the trust denied that the operation had been substandard in terms of the method and equipment used,” added Mr Moore.

“The case emphasises the importance of ensuring patients are fully armed with all the facts with regards to their surgery. It should never be that a patient undergoes surgery or treatment without knowing all they need to, or somebody who can make the decision on their behalf being fully informed.”

Medical negligence occurs if you receive substandard treatment by a medical professional, whether that’s directly causing an injury, or making an injury or condition worse.

Medical negligence can also happen if you are misdiagnosed, receive the wrong treatment, or a mistake is made during surgery.

Read more: Clinical and Medical Negligence Compensation Claims

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