Medical Negligence

Woman awarded damages after NHS Trust failed to diagnose broken thigh bone leaving her ‘depressed and in pain’ for a year

Antoinette France

Elizabeth Maliakal 

Principal Solicitor for Training & Business Development 

6 min read time

A woman from West Yorkshire says she was left to suffer a year in pain and was unable to stand properly after a fractured thigh bone went undiagnosed despite x-rays being taken.

The negligent treatment meant her home had to be fitted with aids and appliances to help with mobility issues and she was left feeling “trapped and isolated” and required counselling to cope.

Mother-of-two, Antoinette France, was awarded £135,000 by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in an out of court settlement.

The Trust also launched a Serious Incident Review to find out what went wrong and why.

It admitted “mistakes were made on a number of levels” and there were “clear lessons to be learnt.”

Following an investigation, the Trust said it would seek to improve communications between departments and patients’ nursing, medical and therapy notes would be kept together and eventually be integrated on an electronic system.

The grandmother, who lived in Wakefield at the time, says after returning home from hospital she was forced to rehome her dog because she could not leave her upstairs flat.

“I used to be a person who went on long walks, but I was left using crutches; even now I can’t walk far and have to use a wheelchair. It was disgusting the way I was treated,” said Mrs France.

“I came out of hospital incredibly depressed, I couldn’t drive, walk or get outside, I was housebound, a burden and felt like an old lady. I was in a very bad place, I felt life was over,” she recalled.

‘The standard of treatment afforded to my client fell below an acceptable level’

Mrs France, who was 64 at the time, initially had a fall in January 2017 when she was out walking her dog and was taken to the emergency department of Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

She underwent a revision hip replacement shortly afterwards and was transferred to The Mid Yorkshire Trust Rehabilitation Unit as an inpatient for physiotherapy. However, she fell again while receiving treatment, fracturing her femur.

An ambulance then took her back to Pinderfields where only her left knee was x-rayed and not her thigh bone and she was returned to the rehabilitation unit.

The following month, still in pain, another x-ray was taken, this time of the femur, but it was “negligently reported as showing no change,” according to medical experts consulted as part of her claim against the Trust.

In March 2017 Mrs France was discharged and told to continue with her physiotherapy at home. When the x-ray was later re-examined, it was evident Mrs France had in fact suffered a fracture.

As part of a legal case led against the Trust, Hudgell Solicitors’ medical negligence specialists claimed there were two allegations of negligence.

In February 2017 an x-ray was taken of her left knee but not her left femur and in March when her left femur was finally x-rayed it was reported as normal rather than showing a fracture.

The delay in diagnosis and treatment left Mrs France with pain in both hips and knees, one leg was shorter than the other and she limped.

Mrs France claimed the fracture was left to heal by itself and she also waited a year before undergoing another hip stem replacement operation at a special orthopaedic department at Sheffield Hospital.

Elizabeth Maliakal, associate solicitor in clinical negligence at Hudgell Solicitors, who supported Mrs France in bringing her claim against Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust successfully said, “the standard of treatment afforded to my client fell below an acceptable level.

“Surgery should have been carried out within 24 to 48 hours to repair the fracture and re-insert a new hip stem.

“The fracture would have healed; leg length inequality would have been restored and pain in the hips and knees would have been ameliorated and the recovery period would have been six to 12 weeks.

“However, surgery was not undertaken until over a year after the original injury.

“During that time she needed a crutch to walk and a wheelchair to travel longer distances. She still has difficulty getting in and out of bed, into the shower and in and out of the car and she still requires assistance for personal care,” said Ms Maliakal.

The negligence case also claimed the doctor who undertook the initial examination was of insufficient seniority given Mrs France’s history of recent hip surgery and a fall.

Mrs France, who has since become a grandmother and moved into a bungalow, says she decided to take legal advice because she wanted answers.

“I wanted to know why I was treated the way I was, I kept telling people I was in pain but it was ignored, I felt like I was treated as a stupid person in their 60s. There was a catalogue of errors, there was mistake after mistake.

“It was never about the money it was about finding out why and how it happened. I have had an apology from the Trust and I’ve been told they are changing the way they do things.

“Now, I need to move forward and think about the future. I’ll need a motorised scooter because I still can’t walk far without experiencing pain, I’ll need an adjustable bed. I just don’t want to be a burden, but I have bounced back, that’s me!”

Ms Maliakal said it had been a pleasure to represent Mrs France in a complex case, “independent medical experts we consulted proved my client’s allegations were well founded and The Trust quickly admitted liability and agreed to a resolution which Mrs France was satisfied with.”

Mrs France said she couldn’t thank Ms Maliakal enough, “Elizabeth was always available to talk to me, she was and is a very caring person that understands that to a lay person the way the law works can be very confusing, but she always had time to listen to me and made me feel secure when I had moments of doubt. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to take on my case,” she said.

If you or a loved one has suffered ill-treatment or poor care during a visit to the hospital, you may be eligible to claim hospital negligence compensation – helping to cover the cost of ongoing care, remedial treatment, and loss of earnings.

We believe everyone has the right to the good standard of care when visiting a hospital, regardless of whether their treatment is provided on the NHS or through a private practice.

Our experienced hospital negligence lawyers hold hospital trusts to account for failings in patient care, securing maximum compensation for those that are let down by their healthcare practitioner when receiving treatment for illness or injury in hospital. For a free consultation about your claim, get in touch today.

Read more: Hospital Negligence

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