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Damages recovered after hip replacement op went wrong


Longden Walker & Renney has won £14,000 in damages for a client whose hip replacement operation went badly wrong.

Client 'C' came to us for legal advice after mistakes were made during a full hip replacement in 2012, before complications during a second corrective surgery caused her permanent eyesight damage.

Her ordeal began in May of that year when part of an implant used by her surgeon turned out to be the wrong size. And the situation worsened when a second corrective surgery triggered a ‘vascular event’ which caused the vision damage.

The private orthopaedic surgeon who performed the surgeries has now been deemed to have been clinically negligent after mistakenly inserting an inappropriate acetabular cup, which is the socket part of the ball and socket implant.

Background

Client C’s medical background included hereditary sickle cell disease, right eye vitreo-retinal detachment surgery and a previous right hip replacement in 2010.

As she complained of severe pain in her left hip, a total left hip replacement was arranged to take place on the first of May 2012. The treatment was funded under the terms of an insurance policy and took place at Spire Harpenden Hospital under the direction of Mr Waterfield.

Following the surgery, ‘C’ reported that she was awoken by Mr Waterfield and told that, when he was doing his post operative paperwork, he had noticed that he had inserted the wrong cap into the prosthesis. He said that he needed to operate again to correct his mistake.

A second operation was performed in an attempt to correct the original error. This required that ‘C’ undergo a further general anaesthetic.

Our client required a blood transfusion of four units over a two-day period. Whilst recovering from procedures on the first post operative day, it was noted that she complained of pain and shadows in her eye, as well as blurred vision. It was then found that she had developed problems with her eye that would require further treatment.

A consultant ophthalmic surgeon met with ‘C’ at Luton & Dunstable Hospital, where it was recorded that upon recovering from anaesthetic, C had become aware of changes in her left field of vision. These were described as new onset deep retinal and inter retinal haemorrhages in the left eye retina. It was recorded that the consultant ophthalmic surgeon thought that such problems would most likely occur as a sickling event during anaesthesia.

In a post operative eye examination it was found that our client had been left with three new deep intra retinal haemorrhages in the nasal aspect of her left retina. The doctor also noted that her left eye demonstrated a persisting cotton wool spot and nerve fibre layer haemorrhage, a micro aneurysm close to fixation in the left eye, deep retinal haemorrhage close to fixation and sporadic ischemic/occlusive changes to the retinal vessels in almost all quadrants of the peripheral retina.

She was subsequently monitored by a consultant ophthalmic surgeon who advised her that he did not want to intervene surgically as such a procedure would be extremely complicated.

‘C’ complained that she had been left with blurred vision in her left eye which was compounded by pre-existing problems with the vision in her right eye. She reported that her vision problems impacted on her everyday life and employment, as she had to request visual aids.

Our Mr Lowther was instructed to investigate a potential claim for damages as a result of alleged clinical negligence. Mr Lowther obtained medical records and prepared a witness statement. He identified useful medical records that supported our client’s allegations.

A formal letter of claim was put to the defendant, enclosing evidence that the defendant had used the incorrect acetabular cup and had to perform further surgery, as a result of which ‘C’ had suffered permanent damage to her vision.

The defendant’s legal representatives admitted that substandard treatment had been provided and proposed settlement for £6,000 damages.

On C’s behalf, we obtained independent expert medical evidence from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and negotiated a settlement on a basis whereby our client received £14,000 damages and payment of her reasonable legal fees and expenses.

The independent medical expert evidence was that, whilst ‘C’ had suffered some damage to her vision, her sight in both eyes remained of a good standard and she remained able to undertake everyday tasks such as driving.

Have you experienced a situation in which a clinician had to perform a second surgery after inserting the wrong component, or would you like to discuss a clinical negligence claim concerning substandard surgery?

If so, please contact John Lowther on 0191 566 6500 or email jlowther@longdens.co.uk. Alternatively, you can complete our short enquiry form and one of our medical negligence solicitors will be in touch.

 Some people wonder will I have to go to court with my claim? You can find out more info on our FAQ page.

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