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December 17th 2014

Medical Negligence

Hospital Trust pays patient left disabled £950,000 after delays in diagnosing spinal abscess

Helena Wood

Helena Wood

Legal Executive, Clinical Negligence

Hospital Trust pays patient left disabled £950,000 after delays in diagnosing spinal abscess

A man left severely disabled after developing an abscess on his spine has been awarded £950,000 in compensation after being repeatedly sent home from hospital despite experiencing severe and worsening pains.

A man left severely disabled after developing an abscess on his spine has been awarded £950,000 in compensation after being repeatedly sent home from hospital despite experiencing severe and worsening pains.

The patient, a father of two young children who has asked not to be named, was sent home from two hospitals run by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust on FIVE separate occasions, over a 10 day period.

On three visits to A&E at Pontefract General Hospital he was not referred to Orthopaedic surgeons or more senior members of staff, no blood tests were carried out, nor was an MRI scan.

He was sent home each time with painkillers and medication for heartburn, such as Gaviscon.

Pinderfields Hospital then failed to carry out the same tests on two occasions, which experts later said would have revealed his condition.

Even when finally admitted to hospital, an MRI scan was not carried out until 8 days later, when the serious spinal abscess was found.

In total, it took 19 days between the patient first attending hospital with severe back pain to the abscess being diagnosed via an MRI scan, and being removed.

Solicitor Helena Wood, of Hudgell Solicitors, sought advice from eight independent medical experts in a claim against the Trust, which brought about the final compensation settlement.

She said “We are pleased that Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has agreed to compensate our client.

“The facts are clear. Our client, who had previously been fit and well, attended at hospital on no less than five occasions in quick succession – twice having been referred by his GP – suffering from worsening pains in the spine, something which required further investigation

“The evidence from our experts was that he should have been treated at an earlier stage, and if he had then he would have made a more-or-less full recovery, suffering only minor manageable back pain thereafter.

“It was our case that the treatment at both Pontefract and Pinderfields hospitals fell below the expected duty of care by failing to refer our client for review by the Orthopaedic surgeons or more senior members of staff earlier, or to perform blood tests and an MRI scan at an earlier stage.

“The compensation has thankfully enabled our client to purchase his own specially adapted home, and will enable him to fund specialist rehabilitation support to try and improve his long-term neurological condition.”

The man has been left unable to work, and is entirely dependent on a walking frame. He has a weaker right arm and needs to take drugs daily to ease his pain.

Speaking of the experience, the patient, who is in his 40s, said: “I can’t believe what has happened to me. I was a fit and healthy man and I used to go to the gym regularly before all this happened, and now I can’t do anything.

“The hardest thing has been the impact on my young children. They were only very young at the time, and since being left like this, I haven’t been able to do all the things a dad should do with his boys, like playing out with them and running around having fun.

“Helena at Hudgell Solicitors was fantastic for me. When something like this happens to you, it is easy to think there is nobody on your side, but Helena told me she would ensure I was compensated and supported to help me start rebuilding my life.

“She handled everything for me and kept me updated at all times with my case. It allowed me to forget about the legal side of things and focus my mind on my future, as I knew she was working hard on my behalf.

“The compensation has funded my own specially adapted home, where I can have my children visit me, and I can be as comfortable as possible. They have also arranged for me to have the best rehabilitation as I look to make the most of life. It has helped me stay positive and move on during very difficult times.”

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