A pensioner from North Yorkshire has described how she has been left with permanent damage to her toe because a doctor wouldn’t examine her injury.
Chris Keogh, from Thirsk, has now successfully claimed and received £9,250 compensation for the injury which may still need further surgery.
Mrs Keogh was rushed by ambulance from her home to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton in September 2010. While cleaning a kitchen cupboard, a jar of chilli peppers had fallen on her bare foot and she couldn’t stem the bleeding from her toe.
First, Mrs Keogh was left for over an hour in the hospitals’ accident and emergency department. Then, the on-call orthopaedic doctor didn’t examine her injury, despite a nurse raising concerns that there may be damage to a tendon. Instead the doctor assured the nurse that Mrs Keogh could be sent home.
Mrs Keogh said: “I was sitting for over an hour in the accident and emergency department and there was no one else waiting there except me. Eventually I went to the reception to ask when I’d be seen.
“A nurse cleaned the toe up and I had an x-ray. She was concerned there was damage to a tendon so telephoned for a doctor for advice and to examine my injury. But the doctor wouldn’t come and just told her to put some steri-strips on my toe.
“I went home but after about two hours the dressing was saturated so I went to the local hospital in Thirsk. They re-dressed it and told me to keep my foot up.”
After two weeks, when the strips were removed, Mrs Keogh’s GP was unhappy with progress so referred her to an orthopaedic specialist for an urgent scan. But it was to be a further two months before the scan was carried out and Mrs Keogh saw the specialist.
Mrs Keogh, a retired office worker, said: “It turned out that the tendon had been severed. The accident happened in September and it was now November. The orthopaedic specialist explained that a tendon is like a piece of elastic and if it’s not repaired straightaway it starts to unravel.”
Nine weeks after the initial injury, Mrs Keogh underwent an operation to try to rectify the damage and reconstruct the tendon. A large metal pin was put into her toe, her foot was covered in a large dressing and she had to wear a special shoe. As it was now so difficult for Mrs Keogh to walk, her back was affected by the injury and she developed chronic back pain.
Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t work. Mrs Keogh still can’t bend her toe and suffers pain and swelling.
Mrs Keogh complained to South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs the Friarage Hospital but her letter was never acknowledged.
It was then that she sought legal advice, initially from a solicitors firm in York. However, when the firm refused to take her claim she transferred to Neil Hudgell Solicitors, specialists in personal injury and medical negligence.
Mrs Keogh’s case was taken on by Vince Shore, senior solicitor and medical negligence expert at Neil Hudgell Solicitors.
Vince said: “It was clear that Mrs Keogh had a case for medical negligence. We consulted an expert in A&E medicine who confirmed there had been a breach of duty of care for delay in diagnosing tendon injury. Further expert evidence we gathered from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon confirmed that a better outcome would have been obtained if timely surgery had been performed, and much of Mrs Keogh’s symptomology would have been avoided.”
Mrs Keogh said: “I was very pleased with the service I received from Neil Hudgell Solicitors, Vince was brilliant and kept me informed every step of the way and has been a great help.
“I am pleased to receive the compensation although if the Trust had written and apologised in the first place I may not have felt that the only option was to take legal action.”
Mrs Keogh is now deciding whether to have her toe fused in the hope that it causes her less pain, swelling and inconvenience. She has to wear special insoles in her shoes and may need a hip replacement as the toe injury aggravated her arthritis.