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.”