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£100,000 damages for grandmother who had to go under knife three times due to hospital’s hip replacement error

A health trust has paid £100,000 damages to a patient after doctors needed three attempts to correctly complete her hip replacement.

Suzanne Harvey, 59, had to go under the knife three times in the space of eight days.

As part of a successful legal claim against Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, it was alleged the errors caused the grandmother of 15 to suffer long-term problems which would have been avoided had the initial operation been completed successfully.

Ms Harvey’s new hip dislocated as she was being moved from her hospital trolley back to her bed following her operation at Calderdale Royal Hospital, West Yorkshire.

It meant she had to return to theatre the following day to have her new hip relocated, but this once again proved unsuccessful, with doctors noting in the days following that she still required further “revision surgery” as her hip was deemed “unstable”.

The matter was finally successfully resolved eight days after the original operation, but came at an extra cost according to independent medical experts who were consulted by medical negligence claims specialists Hudgell Solicitors.

It was alleged as part of the legal case that had the hip been correctly inserted and the dislocation avoided, Ms Harvey would have been mobile after one to two days and walking on crutches and sticks over an eight to 10-week period.

Instead, it was claimed she had made a poor recovery and, as a result of the dislocation, had developed chronic post-surgical pain and hip dysfunction, which in turn has caused additional pressure on her knees, left hip and back.

The solicitors suggested these issues, including the need for a total left knee replacement, were brought forward by two to three years as a result of the errors made in hospital, leaving Ms Harvey with an increased perception of pain.

Operation was supposed to be ‘answer to prayers’ but became ‘a nightmare’

Ms Harvey had suffered with arthritis for more than three decades and was convinced a hip replacement would solve her ongoing pain problems, but said the ordeal, in 2012, had changed her life completely.

She was awarded £100,000 compensation, but still faces a further hip replacement procedure within the next four years due to her replacement’s lifespan, an operation she says she is now terrified to have.

She said: “I’ve had hip pain for many years and I researched replacements and thought the good outweighed the bad. I thought this was going to be the answer to my prayers but the whole thing has been a nightmare.

“I felt my hip dislocate when they moved me after the first operation. I have never experienced pain like it. Another patient said she will never forget the noise I made for the rest of her life. I was hysterical. I ended up having three operations and three general anaesthetics.

“I couldn’t walk properly for about six months and I needed help at home. It has changed my life completely since.

“The replacement was supposed to get me back on my feet. Instead, I’m like a hermit and I only go out when my family takes me. I don’t feel safe going on my own. I’m so young at heart, but my body is in bits. It’s unbelievable.

“I feel disgusted, hurt and frightened because I now know I need to have another hip replacement, but I don’t want it. I still have nightmares and flashbacks, and I wake up screaming about what the pain was like. I can walk but I’m in constant pain and I’ll be on painkillers for the rest of my life.

“I feel fed up a lot and I feel like a prisoner because I can’t walk far. I used to go out every weekend and two or three times during the week, but I rarely go into town now.

“All I ever wanted from taking legal action was a genuine face-to-face apology, but I’ve never had one. I’ve felt like a number, not a patient, and £100,000 still isn’t an apology.”

Trust admits breach of duty causing dislocation need for extra surgery

Reports by independent medical experts said Ms Harvey could have expected to have regained reasonable hip function within five to six months and would not have suffered chronic post-surgical pain, as well as other health problems, had the initial operation been completed successfully.

They also said her right hip replacement would have had a normal 15-year lifespan, rather than the eight to 10-year lifespan her current hip has.

It was also alleged Ms Harvey suffered an avoidable eight-day period of pain and distress, including having two more avoidable surgical procedures and treatment in an abduction brace.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust admitted breach of duty, accepting liability for the dislocation of Ms Harvey’s hip and the need for revision surgery as a result, offering the £100,000 settlement as damages.

‘Errors were completely unacceptable’

Solicitor Tasmin White, of Hudgell Solicitors, represented Ms Harvey in the case.

She said: “This was a horrendous experience for Ms Harvey which did not simply cause upset and pain at the time but has continued to have a long-lasting impact on her quality of life.

“It is completely unacceptable for such avoidable errors to be made. Put simply, this case was about the failure to ensure the hip replacement was done correctly the first time. The hospital trust admits there was a breach of the duty of care owed to Ms Harvey. 

“Having to undergo any form of surgery is a big decision and can be a traumatic time for a patient, so to go through an operation, then suffer agonising pain from a dislocation and then have to face two more surgical procedures is shocking. It is perhaps not surprising that Ms Harvey is reluctant about any future surgery on her hip.

“The initial hip replacement operation should have been the answer to her problems. Instead it has caused years more pain and discomfort.

“It’s been a long process to get the compensation Ms Harvey deserves, and she has been so patient throughout. I’m relieved it’s over for her now and that she is happy with the outcome.”

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04/08/2017 No Comments

One in Four Back Pain Sufferers ‘Left Damaged’ by Surgery

Back Pain Sufferers Left Damaged by Surgery | Hudgell Solicitors

A quarter of back pain sufferers are ‘left damaged’ by remedial surgery according to a study by spinal surgeons, with post-op issues ranging from severe pain to permanent paralysis.

The study, which was conducted by a team at Salford spinal surgery unit, found that 25% of 900 patients suffered complications following a spinal operation. This figure sits in stark contrast to the 4.6% complication rate reported by surgeons.

Medical negligence claims for substandard spinal procedures are now so common that the Medical Defence Union, which provides insurance to private doctors, has announced that it will no longer cover the cost of back surgery claims outside the NHS. Leading spinal surgeons are also demanding the development of a patient database, which would make it easier to identify patterns of failure and hold those liable to account for inadequate care and wrongdoing.

Leading surgeon Naveed Yasin of the Salford spinal unit led the study, and reported the team’s findings to the British Association of Spinal Surgeons (BASS). Speaking to the Times, Naveed voiced concerns that the lack of a single registry for spinal operations means there’s no benchmark against which the quality of spinal operations can be measured, and that the outcomes of many procedures aren’t being properly recorded.

He said: “Outcome measurements are controversial, but we need them. We compare outcomes with European averages. If you don’t do them, how do you know if you’re a good or bad surgeon?”

In our work representing those affected by substandard spinal surgery, we see patients living with life-changing injuries and complications, including severe pain, incontinence, paralysis, and difficulty walking. Worryingly, cases of botched spinal surgery are on the increase, with the same failings found to be repeated from patient to patient.

Spinal Surgery Errors Greatest Legal Drain on NHS

After damage during childbirth, spinal surgery complication claims represent the greatest legal drain on the NHS, with thousands paid in failed back surgery compensation each year. According to the Medical Protection Society, a government-backed organisation which supports healthcare professionals, the cost of settling medical negligence claims could reach £2.6bn a year by 2022 — with botched spinal surgery compensation accounting for a large proportion of this total figure.

Given the life-changing impact substandard back surgery poses, more must be done to improve standards and reduce the risk patients face when undergoing seemingly low-risk procedures. The General Medical Council is currently reviewing the results of the study, and is expected to outline its proposed improvement plans when BASS publishes its full report later in the year.

If you’ve suffered as a result of a substandard back operation, our medical negligence solicitors are here to help. For a free, no obligation consultation about your claim, click here or call our team today.

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04/07/2017 No Comments

Why we Welcome the Disclosure of NHS Surgeons’ Mortality Rates

Doctors Hospital Corridor Nurse Pushing Gurney Stretcher Bed

With recent scandals involving a lack of transparency we at Neil Hudgell Solicitors welcome the disclosure of NHS surgeons’ mortality rates.

It can only be right that patients undergoing surgery are able to access these details to ensure they are appraised of sufficient information to decide whether to proceed with surgery or not.

The disclosure of this information must however be placed in context.  Those surgeons who are most experienced may not have the ‘best’ mortality rates because they undertake more complex surgery on patients with significant health issues.  Further a surgeon who only undertakes a small number of surgeries may have a high mortality rate if only one surgery results in the death of a patient, in circumstances where that death was unavoidable. It is therefore important that hospitals and surgeons can quickly put these figures into context for patients so that the patient can make an informed decision.

Whilst disclosure of mortality rates is a step forward, the figures do not take into account the circumstances where patients suffer significant complications following surgery, which whilst not being fatal, can have life changing consequences for patients. It therefore remains vital that hospitals closely monitor all significant complications following surgery to ensure that over reliance on death rate statistics as a measure of performance does not arise resulting in a failure to spot other serious issues with performance of not only the surgeons, but their supporting team.

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08/07/2013 No Comments

Healthcare, is this for real?

There are a lot of headlines around at the moment involving the performance of care homes, hospitals, individual surgeons, the NHS itself and whether or not they are regulated properly. Unfortunately, behind all these headlines, are real people and families affected by treatment and care that has gone wrong.

Those people, will in all likelihood, find themselves in a situation that is distressing and unfamiliar to them and which puts them under a great deal of pressure perhaps from the health point of view and financially.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation?

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28/06/2013 No Comments

Why plans to reorganise Heart Surgery at the LGI are put on hold

negligence claims

On 12th June the health secretary announced that the closure of the Leeds heart unit and two others in Leicester and London will be suspended after it become apparent that the initial consultation process which, began in 2008 was fundamentally flawed.

The process to improve children’s heart surgery began after a public enquiry into baby deaths following paediatric surgery.

The NHS decided to reduce the number of child heart surgery units from 10 to 7 and specialise in a smaller number of centres in order to raise standards. This decision was endorsed in the safe and sustainable review which concluded that the Leeds General Infirmary, the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton Hospital should stop providing paediatric surgery.

However, this decision was met with huge resistance and campaigners fought relentlessly against the closure of the units.

The government subsequently undertook an independent review and the panel concluded that the decision by the Joint committee to close the above units was based on flawed analysis and incomplete proposals.

However, the future of the LGI is still uncertain since, the health secretary has asked NHS England to still consider plans to reorganising  the services with the report due at the end of July.

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14/06/2013 No Comments

Have you had unnecessary surgery?

There is a lot of coverage in the press and on the news at the moment surrounding the care of thousands of female patients and the cancer treatment that they may have had unnecessarily. This is a worrying discovery. As the story about the surgeon who allegedly mistreated a number of breast cancer patients emerges, the Daily Telegraph reports on the general position regarding unnecessary surgical procedures taking place every day in the UK.

On 9th November 2012 the Daily Telegraph highlights the fact that many doctors do not tell their patients what possible pitfalls there are to the surgical procedure that patient is consenting for. The trust of the medical profession is such that a patient consents to surgery that is considered best for them by the consultant to whom they are referred. The recent discovery of the breast cancer surgeon has highlighted the fact that the surgeon does not always know best.

The article in the Daily Telegraph suggests that when guidance is given to patients about the surgical procedure that they are about to have, they are not adequately informed of all the possible risks. This includes, when a general anaesthetic is required, the risk of death. The Daily Telegraph uses an example that when men are offered prostate surgery for relief of urinary problems, 40% of them will go on to refuse surgery if they are advised that the operation may cause impotence. You can find a link to the story published in the Daily Telegraph here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9665066/Doctors-not-telling-patients-the-pitfalls-of-surgery.html

An important factor of proceeding with surgery is the patient’s lifestyle and what they considered to be important to that lifestyle. The report quotes Dr Clare Gerada, Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. She says that “Shared decision making improves outcomes and reduces the rate of operations….But the problem nowadays is the NHS is so driven by activity that we sometimes forget the patient”.. This leads us to question does the Doctor really know best? We believe that consent for surgery is a vital step in the whole treatment process. A patient has the right to know what possible complications and side affects can stem from the surgery they are about to have. They also have the right to make an informed choice as to whether they want to proceed with that surgery or not. Without knowing all the pitfalls a patient can never make that informed choice.

The medical negligence team at Neil Hudgell Solicitors have experience of cases where the patient believes they suffered complications or adverse consequences as a result of surgical procedures they would never have gone through with, had they known the risks. If you believe that you, a friend, or family member may have received surgery unnecessarily call our helpline on 0808 252 7043 for further advice.

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12/11/2012 No Comments

Access all Ages

In my blog of 13th June 2012, “Age Old Excuses”, I highlighted that, as from this month, elderly patients will be able to sue those who provide services, including healthcare, if they are denied the service on the basis of their age alone.

I also commented that this can only be correct.

This view has now been reinforced by the Royal College of Surgeons and Age UK in their report “Access All Ages”.

From the outset it is important to recognise that there may well be valid reasons that an older person does not undergo surgery.  As we age, we inevitably become less fit and our bodies wear out making us less suitable candidates for surgery. 

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16/10/2012 No Comments

The problem with Catheters…

We have been instructed recently on a few cases involving trauma caused by catheters.

When the Daily Mail reported on similar issues this made us consider how often this is occurring. The report states that in 2008 approximately 41-58% of catheters were fitted unnecessarily and, given our experience, we believe this is an ongoing problem.

In the Daily Mail on Tuesday 25th September 2012 they reported on a story where a lady had a catheter fitted without prior consent because it would be “inappropriate” for her to be getting out of bed after surgery. The lady in question was having surgery to deal with a nerve problem in her face and it was not likely that she would be immobile post surgery….   She ended up contracting MRSA and then for the following 3 years suffered ongoing problems with urinary tract infections. 

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05/10/2012 No Comments

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