The woman sustained a dog bite to her right hand when another dog attacked her dogs whilst out walking them. She attended A & E at Rotherham General Hospital, where an x-ray confirmed there was no fracture. Sutures were applied, the hand bandaged and a tetanus injection and antibiotics given. She returned four days later, had the dressing changed and was told to continue with the antibiotics. She attended her GP surgery four times following this for the dressing to be changed. A simple dressing was applied and the woman was given more of the same dressings to use at home. She was told to return to surgery if she had any problems.
Missed tendon damage leads to ‘urgent’ reconstruction
A few days later, the woman returned to her GP as her thumb had swollen and was stiff. The GP advised that the tendon had most likely been ruptured and referred her to physiotherapy at Rotherham General Hospital. When she attended, concerns were raised and she arranged to see a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. She was advised that she would need to undergo intensive physiotherapy/occupational therapy before any surgery could be considered. The consultant would see her again in three weeks at which point, if she was making good progress with physiotherapy he would discuss tendon reconstruction with her.
At the following appointment with the treating consultant orthopaedic and hand surgeon, the woman said she was keen to proceed with tendon reconstruction, which was listed as urgent, due to the “unfortunate initial error of diagnosis”.
Two operations following missed tendon damage
The woman underwent the two-stage tendon reconstruction, followed by physiotherapy and exercises at home. She wanted the best possible outcome. At review several months later, concerns were raised that her recovery had appeared to reach a plateau. She was then offered either a fusion procedure or a further two stage tendon reconstruction. The woman wanted the latter, even though it was the highest risk procedure.
The operation was carried out, but, following a period of convalescence, the woman continued to suffer with pain and restricted movement to the right thumb. In addition, the woman also experienced pain to her right ring finger, which had been the site of harvest for the second tendon reconstruction. Accordingly, the woman’s GP arranged for her to seek a second opinion at Royal Derby Hospital to discuss further treatment options available to her.
Nikki pursues hospital for compensation
The woman contacted Graysons to see if she could claim compensation and Nikki took up her case. She pursued Rotherham General Hospital, alleging breach of duty of care in that it had failed to correctly diagnose the tendon injury following the dog bite and had failed to properly assess flexor tendon function on both of the first two visits to the hospital. Had an accurate assessment been carried out, the woman would have been referred to the orthopaedic surgeon or plastics hand surgeon sooner.
The hospital denied that there was an initial failure to diagnose tendon damage, but admitted that the second assessment was inadequate and that the woman should have been referred for specialist opinion. It was also admitted that the possibility of a tendon injury should have been suspected at the second assessment. Breaches of duty after this date were denied, as was causation.
Nikki negotiates settlement for missed tendon damage
Nikki negotiated with the hospital but advised that their offers were too low and so she issued court proceedings. She was then able to obtain an offer of £33,000 before witness evidence was exchanged. The client was happy with the offer and accepted it.
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