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An orthopaedic injury refers to an injury of the bones, muscles and joints of the human body.

A practitioner specialising in orthopaedics will often look after patients that have suffered bone fractures,  who need joint replacement, ligament reconstruction surgery, hand, shoulder and elbow surgery, foot and ankle surgery and back and spine surgery.

Orthopaedic negligence is when a practitioner makes an avoidable error which causes injury to the patient. Examples of orthopaedic negligence include: inadequate assessment of a patient before surgery, surgical errors, including mistakes in placing prosthetic joints, using an incorrect treatment such as a partial knee replacement when a full replacement is needed, inadequate postoperative care leading to infection, misdiagnosing fractures, poor operative technique and damage to nerves or circulation due to medical procedure.

If you feel you have suffered as a result of orthopaedic negligence and may have an orthopaedic injury claim, please get in touch.

Our team of expert clinical negligence solicitors are on hand to advise you on the legal steps that are available to you.

 

Gynaecology is the medical practice dealing with the health of the female reproductive system.

Gynaecological treatment covers a number of areas including cancer, medical management of a chronic condition, surgery or post-natal care.

Most women will need gynaecological care once in their lives, the investigations and treatments carried out are all common medical procedures.

The main procedures that can lead to gynaecological negligence as a direct consequence of a practitioner’s incompetence are: removal of an ovarian cyst, pelvic organ prolapse, endometrial ablation, hysterectomy (full or part uterus removal), salpingectomy (fallopian tube removal), myomectomy (uterine fibroid removal), oophorectomy (ovarian removal), colposcopy, abortions, sterilisations and dilation and curettage.

Gynaecological procedures carry risks including but not limited to incontinence following surgery, perforation of the uterus during the insertion of a contraceptive coil, failed sterilisation, damage during laproscopic investigations or surgery, injury to bladder, bowel or uterus during hysterectomy, unnecessary hysterectomy following a caesarean section, defective consent to medical procedures and infection resulting in loss of childbearing potential and damage to womb or abdominal wall.

If you feel strongly that you have suffered a gynaecological injury as a result of treatment you have received or as a result of a failure by a doctor to diagnose a condition then you may have a potential negligence claim.

Our dedicated team of female solicitors will provide expert guidance to helping you succeed and win you the compensation that you deserve.

 

Members of the Society of Clinical Negligence Laywers (SCIL) have campaigned at Westminster against fixed fees for medical negligence claims.

The chairman of SCIL, Stephen Webber, said ‘We believe the most important issue here is patient safety – if there can be improvements and lessons learnt then the level of negligence will be reduced. That must be the starting point for reform’

Lord Justice Jackson published a report in July on fixed costs in which he said a working group should be set up.

A response to a consultation on fixed costs for clinical negligence claims is still being prepared by The Department of Health.

The full story, as reported in the Law Society Gazette can be read here.

On 30th January 2017, the Department of Health published a 12 week consultation, closing on 2nd May 2017, seeking views on proposals to introduce a system of Fixed Recoverable Costs in Lower Value Clinical Negligence Claims.

 

It is proposed that a Fixed Recoverable Costs regime would apply to clinical negligence cases involving awards of between £1,000 and £25,000 brought against the NHS as well as both not for profit and private healthcare providers in England and Wales, including dentists.

 

This would limit the amount of legal costs that could be recovered by solicitors who win clinical negligence claims on behalf of their clients to a set proportion of the damages (compensation) awarded to the injured patients or their families.

 

However, there are grave concerns from a number of bodies including charities for patient safety and justice and claimant solicitors regarding these proposals. One concern is the implications for access to justice as legal costs recovered by solicitors could only be a proportion of the damages secured for the patient/family which may mean that many would-be claimants would not be able to get a solicitor to represent them in cases where the damages are relatively low.  In effect many victims of serious neglect and negligent treatment such as in older people like we have seen at Mid Staffordshire and child death cases such as those seen at Morecambe Bay would simply be unable to have access to justice.

 

Another concern is the implications for patient safety, as an unintended consequence of the Fixed Recoverable Costs proposals would be the creation of a perverse incentive for NHS organisations to adopt a ‘deny and defend culture’. This is because they would be safe in the knowledge that simply defending and denying liability in many cases will mean that an injured patient or their family will be unable to take things further due to costs limitations. The result of this would be that important learning opportunities about lapses in patient safety would be lost. It is often the case that when errors have not initially been appreciated or admitted by the health provider, it is only the litigation process which brings these errors to light.

 

Angus Buchanan

 

About the author

Angus Buchanan works in the Medical Negligence department of Brindley Twist Tafft & James, a firm of solicitors in Coventry that specialises in medical negligence cases nationwide.  Angus has dealt with claims including medication prescription error, perforation caused by an endoscopy and a lack of pain relief during a caesarean section.

 

Official figures released by NHS Litigation Authority, the body that deals with claims on behalf of the NHS, show that the NHS set aside £56 billion in 2016 to pay for medical mistakes made by their staff. This represents almost half of the total NHS budget of £116 billion. This figure is almost double the £31 billion put aside in 2014 and up from £665 million in 2005/6.

 

This revelation prompted Britain’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office (NAO), to launch a 6-month investigation as to why this amount of money is necessary, with their findings due to be released in the summer of 2017.

 

The Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers (SCIL) is the body of Clinical/Medical Negligence Specialists that has been working hard to get the Government to look at the costs of Medical Negligence cases. SCIL have criticised the vast spend, with the cause being attributed to a culture of “defend, deny and delay”. They support the NAO enquiry, stating it is long overdue and critical for the safety of patients in the country.

SCIL estimates that of the 3,311 cases where the NHS was taken to court in 2015/16, the NHS paid compensation in 2,514 of those cases – 75.93 per cent. It is alleged that most of these cases should have been settled much earlier without the substantial costs of court proceedings and raises questions about the assessment the NHS makes when deciding whether to defend a claim.

 

Furthermore, the consequence of bringing so-called “indefensible” cases through the court system has resulted in Claimant lawyer’s costs being greatly increased when compared to reaching early settlement. The NHS Litigation Authority said that despite the number of claims falling by 4.6 per cent in 2016, claimant legal costs had risen by 43 per cent. The average cost to the NHS of settling at an early stage would be £2,650 but by fighting through the courts costs increase to £18,000.  This culture not only adds to its legal bills but also prolongs the emotional suffering for devastated patients and families.

 

If you need any advice on a medical negligence case, please call me on 024 7653 1532 or email me at angus.buchanan@bttj.com.  We offer free, no obligation consultations.

 

Angus Buchanan

 

About the author

Angus Buchanan works in the Medical Negligence department of Brindley Twist Tafft & James, a firm of solicitors in Coventry that specialises in medical negligence cases nationwide.  Angus has dealt with claims including medication prescription error, perforation caused by an endoscopy and a lack of pain relief during a caesarean section.

 

Mr H of West Bromwich received £25,000 in compensation from Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust following their failure to correctly manage his broken wrist.

 

Mr H, aged 34, was messing about a work during a lunch break. He went to punch a foam block when his friend took a step backwards, altering the point of contact. Mr H’s right hand was forced downwards when contact was made. His hand became cold and numb and he was in considerable pain.

 

Mr H attended Accident and Emergency at Sandwell General Hospital that day. He received x-rays which did not reveal any break. He was put into a plaster cast as a precaution and an appointment was made for him to attend the fracture clinic two days later. At the clinic the Consultant was suspicious that Mr H had suffered a fracture to his scaphoid bone (http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Scaphoid-Fracture.htm) which is common with this mechanism of injury and, notoriously, is rarely revealed by x-rays.

 

The treatment plan was for Mr H to remain in cast for 6-8 weeks. Five days later Mr H reattended the fracture clinic at the hospital. He was seen by a Trust Doctor (i.e. less well qualified than the Consultant he had seen previously). No additional x-rays were taken and the Trust Doctor decided there was no break. He decided to keep Mr H out of cast and provided a splint for him to use at night. Mr H was encouraged to mobilise the hand and returned to work at a factory, which involved manual work.

 

One month later Mr H returned to Accident and Emergency as he was in increasing pain in his wrist. Further x-rays and a CT scan were carried out which, by that time, revealed a minimally displaced scaphoid fracture. He was put back into a cast for five weeks.

 

One month later Mr H was seen again by the initial consultant who noted “I have seen him about two months ago with a suspected scaphoid fracture. He was put into plaster. Unfortunately following this he was taken out of plaster and mobilised. His fracture has now gone on to non-union.”

 

Mr H was referred to an expert wrist surgeon at Birmingham City Hospital. He underwent surgery three months later to fix the bone in the correct position. There was a threat he would need further surgery to include a bone graft which looks to have subsided.

 

Mr H recovered reasonable use in his hand although it will never be as good as the left hand. He instructed Brindley Twist Tafft and James to investigate the treatment that he received.

 

Expert evidence obtained suggested that had Mr H remained continuously in a plaster cast for an appropriate duration (6-8 weeks) on the balance of probabilities the fracture would have healed without further treatment and the surgery would have been unnecessary. His recovery period would have been shorter and he would not be left with a pin in his wrist which may later require surgery to remove.

 

The Defendant trust admitted the allegations made in that the original consultant’s treatment plan should not have been overturned by a more junior doctor. Settlement of £25,000 was negotiated which included the above factors under general damages. In addition Mr H had missed considerable time off work, been restricted on a family holiday and had been unable to assist his wife in caring for their baby.

Richard Stanford

Medical Negligence