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December 21st 2021

Medical Negligence

Woman left needing crutches after knee replacement receives £80,000 damages

Woman left needing crutches after knee replacement receives £80,000 damages

A 50-year-old mother has received an £80,000 damages settlement from a London hospital trust having claimed she has been left worse off following knee replacement surgery and would not have had the operation had she been fully informed of the risks and other non-surgical options.  

A 50-year-old mother has received an £80,000 damages settlement from a London hospital trust having claimed she has been left worse off following knee replacement surgery and would not have had the operation had she been fully informed of the risks and other non-surgical options. 

The woman was referred to Northwick Park Hospital having had continuing knee pain and underwent replacement surgery after x-rays highlighted degenerative changes in her left knee. 

However, in a legal case against London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, led by clinical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, it was alleged she has now been left in a worse position than before her operation. 

Before surgery in May 2015 her knee pain was not constant nor significantly affecting her mobility and was well controlled with painkillers. 

However, she has now been left in severe pain and in need of using two crutches to walk. Two additional surgical procedures have not improved her situation since. 

Helena Wood, an Associate at Hudgell Solicitors, led the case on the woman’s behalf and said a lack of clarity over information provided to the woman, and a failure to ensure she had enough information to fully consent, was a major concern. 

“Our client was adamant that she was never informed of possible alternative treatment options to a total knee replacement, including weight loss, steroid injections and physiotherapy, and was made to feel it was the only option available to her,” she said. 

“In particular, she said she was never informed of the risk of a worse outcome and that she may not recover and be able to return to work.  

 “As such we alleged that there had been a failure to obtain her informed consent for surgery as there were several non-surgical options that should have been offered.”

“I did not know there was any chance of me being left permanently disabled” 

London North West Healthcare NHS Trust insisted risks relating to infection, DVT, pulmonary embolus, nerve damage, neuro-vascular injury and a 15% dissatisfaction rate with total knee replacement were communicated, and noted in medical records. 

However, the woman, who asked not to be named, says she would never have chosen surgery had the risks been made clear to her. 

“I am certain that, save for the risk of infection, none of the risks were mentioned to me verbally, nor were they pointed out to me on any forms for my signature,” she said. 

“The possibility that I may not make a full recovery or that I could end up in a worse position was never discussed with me at any stage prior to the surgery. If the risk had been explained I would never have consented.  

“I was able to walk unaided prior to surgery and whilst I was in some pain, this was manageable so there would have been no need for me to take this kind of risk. It was definitely not mentioned to me that the surgery had ever gone wrong for anybody in that they had been left in a worse position. I would not have gone ahead if this had been explained. 

“I was led to believe surgery was my only option and that it was a relatively minor option that would make me pain free. Had I been told about non-surgical ways to treat my knee I would have gone ahead with these instead. 

“The problems I had with my knees were absolutely nothing compared to the problems I have now.I had a full active life. I did not know there was any chance of me being left permanently disabled and requiring crutches.” 

Compensation settlement agreed without need for court hearing 

The case was settled out of court without any admissions being made. 

“The NHS guidelines are clear in that there is responsibility on healthcare providers to ensure patients are given all of the information about what treatment involves,” added Mrs Wood. 

“This includes the benefits and risks of treatment and procedures, whether there are reasonable alternative treatments, and what will happen if treatment does not go ahead. 

“When somebody is undergoing a procedure such as an operation, consent should be secured well in advance so the patient is afforded plenty of time to understand the procedure and ask questions. 

“In this case, our client would have avoided all the complications following the surgery. She would, however, have required a left total knee replacement in 10-15 years’ time. 

“We were pleased to be able to secure a settlement which has reflected the impact on our client’s life and on her ability to work.” 

The woman added: “My main hope is that this does not happen to another person who is in a similar situation and left totally unaware of the risks of surgery going wrong, and of the severity of the impact this could have on their life. 

“I hope in the future the surgeons warn people about the risk. I feel very strongly that it should be for the patient to decide or put the surgery off until they are much older, as I would have done had I been made aware of all the relevant facts.”

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