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Claim for negligent surgery of fractured arm settles for £16,500

View profile for Carol Maunder
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The facts

On 4.12.10, the Claimant was involved in a car accident.  She was taken to Aberystwyth Hospital by ambulance, x-rayed and advised that she had broken her right arm in two places. On 5.12.10, she underwent surgery and the bones in her right arm were fixed with a metal plate and screws.

On 22.12.10, at the Claimant’s first follow up appointment, it was discovered that her right wrist had also been fractured, but missed at the original appointment.

The Claimant attended numerous appointments, physiotherapy and underwent further surgery to her right arm on 27.9.11, when the plate was removed.  On 17.5.12, the Claimant was advised that there was still a mal-union of the fractures.  The Claimant underwent a third operation which included an artificial bone graft and 20 staples.

Breach of duty / causation

The main medical evidence was provided by Mr Newman (Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Traumatologist) on both liability and condition and prognosis.  It was the Claimant’s case that it was negligent for an intra-focal screw to be placed in the site of her right ulna fracture during the original surgery on 5.12.10.  Without the intra-focal screw it was the Claimant’s case that the fracture would have healed within 3 to 6 months and all symptoms would have resolved in 2 years. 

It was also alleged that the ulna plate was removed prematurely during the second operation, which resulted in a re-fracture and the need for a third operation to re-install a plate on 17.5.12.   It is likely that the plate would have had to have been removed at some point, but as a result of its premature removal the Claimant suffered the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the re-fracture of the ulna and it was necessary for her to undergo 2 operations rather than 1 (i.e, as a result of the premature removal of the plate she had to undergo the operation on 17.5.12, to insert a larger plate and artificial bone graft).

2 other experts – Dr James Rankine (Consultant Musculo-skeletal Radiologist), provided causation medical evidence and Dr Jenkins (Consultant Psychiatrist) provided condition and prognosis evidence.

The expert’s comments

Mr Newman stated in his evidence “Dr Rankine confirms my view that one of the screws was lying within the ulnar fracture site i.e, an intra-focal screw…  Dr Rankine also confirms my view that a lucent line [i.e, the bone is more clear/translucent] is still seen at the ulnar fracture site on the film of September 2011 and there is therefore no convincing evidence radiologically of union.”

Carol Maunder’s comments

The original limitation date of 4.12.13 was extended a number of times by agreement with the Defendant’s solicitors.   Negotiations took place over 8 months starting with the Claimant’s opening offer of £40,000 on 5.11.14.  The Defendants eventually made a counter on 10.6.15 for £10,000 and following further negotiations the claim settled for £16,500 on 3.7.15.

If you want further information about this particular topic, or wish to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim for an injury or medical negligence, please contact the Dutton Gregory Clinical Negligence Team on (01202) 315005, or email k.marden@duttongregory.co.uk.