A man has received a £45,000 damages settlement from a hospital trust after mistakes were made in his initial treatment for a broken elbow – causing him to undergo three surgical procedures which still failed to give him full movement in his arm.
An independent medical expert, consulted as part of a legal claim against Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, said only one appropriate procedure should have been required to successfully return the man’s arm to normal function.
However, due to the failure of initial treatment, he was forced to undergo three procedures over a 16 month period and has still been left struggling to rotate his lower right arm more than 45 degrees.
As part of a legal case against Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust by medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, it was claimed that the man’s arm would have successfully healed with correct treatment.
Legal claim highlighted that fracture was ‘under-treated’ at outset
It was alleged, with expert medical support, that the man’s elbow fracture was under treated at the outset and more aggressive manipulation or an ‘open reduction and internal fixation’ procedure would have avoided the need for subsequent surgery.
Instead the patient, who was aged 16 when suffering the injury in a trampoline accident, was subjected to conservative treatment which consisted of simple manipulation technique with the arm left in plaster cast for three weeks. No further attempts to reposition his arm were made by doctors.
Following the initial treatment he was subjected to intensive physiotherapy, but at a six-month x-ray review his elbow was found to have healed at the wrong position at the joint.
As a result, he underwent a corrective operation, but this also was found to have failed four months later, as one of the screws then placed in his forearm had broken.
This meant the young man, who had hoped to have a career in the army, had to have further surgery to have the metalwork removed, followed by further surgery before a successful result was achieved.
In a medical assessment, the client said he still felt that his arm ‘locks’ when outstretching, aching and struggles to maintain a strong grip on objects.
The medical expert added that the long-term impact of the weakness in his arm was ‘almost certainly sufficient to prevent him from entering the army as he had hoped, leaving him ‘at a disadvantage on the open labour market.’
Trust admitted failings and standard of care was below that expected
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust admitted there had been a failure to consider better options for treatment at the initial stage, causing the client to be subjected to further avoidable surgery. It therefore admitted that the standard of care provided had fallen below the expected standard and offered its apologies for ‘errors in the management’ of the fracture.
Medical negligence solicitor Nasreen Khan, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “My client has undergone three avoidable surgery procedures and has been left with limited movement in his right arm as a result of doctors failing to provide appropriate treatment at the outset.
“Independent medical experts said it had been hopelessly optimistic to expect the elbow to do well with initial conservative treatment and so the fracture was under-treated at the outset.
“What cannot be disputed in this case is the long-term impact this substandard treatment has had on my client. He has suffered long term, and will have restrictions on movement in his arm into the future, as a result of the injury, and has seen his career dream taken away. That is unacceptable.
“The settlement is going to be used by our client to help him make the best start in his career once he leaves university so we wish him all the best for the future.”