Clinical Negligence Resulting in Paraplegia
Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors acted for a claimant who brought a claim for damages for personal injuries and consequential loss arising from alleged clinical negligence. This was with respect to the treatment and advice he received at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
The claimant was 73 years old at the time of the alleged negligence. He had a history of Type 2 Diabetes initially controlled by diet and then medication. In May 2007 he had a right total knee replacement as a result of his osteoarthritis. In June 2008 he was noted to have a right foot drop which required an ankle-foot orthotic and some mild weakness of hip flexion of the right hand side. An MRI scan of his spine in March 2008 was reported as showing evidence of atrophy or thinning of the spinal cord with associated myelomalacia (signal change in the cord) at T6/7 and T8/9. In spite of these health problems at the time of the alleged negligence, the claimant resided alone in privately rented accommodation. He walked with the aid of a stick but he was independently mobile within the home and able to self-care and drive. He was a socially active man particularly with his family and his church community.
The claimant had a history of lower urinary tract symptoms dating back to 1991 – 1992. In July 2007 he was reviewed and his lower urinary tract symptoms were noted to have worsened and the decision was made to proceed with a TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate). He was admitted to the Princess Royal Hospital in June 2008 to have a TURP. During his stay in hospital he developed symptoms of infection to include urinary retention, increased temperature and shaking. He was however discharged a few days later. Blood cultures confirmed that he was suffering from an infection requiring a particular type of antibiotic, Ertapenum. The infection, caused by bacterium, Morganella Morganii, developed untreated.
The claimant returned to the defendant’s hospital in early July 2008 with right sided pain and inability to walk and weight bear. He was prescribed Ertapenem, an effective treatment for Morganella Morganii but he remained on this treatment for only 7-10 days. He was then discharged with no diagnosis despite pain and loss of function. By the end of July 2008 he had to be taken into a Care Home as he was unable to live independently as a result of his lack of mobility.
The claimant was readmitted to the hospital in August 2008 and eventually diagnosed with vertebral osteomyelitis and discitis at L3 and L4 which caused Cauda Equina Syndrome and paraplegia and spincter disturbance. He remained in hospital until late January 2009 before he was discharged to his home and became dependant on a wheelchair and Local Authority care. He now suffers with a number of injuries and permanent disability as a result of the negligence.
Within their defence, the defendant made partial admissions and accepted that the claimant should not have been discharged from hospital without treatment with the right antibiotic for a six week period and that with appropriate treatment, the claimant would not have suffered any neurological injury. The amount of damages was disputed and the defendants indicated that they considered the case was worth £200,000 because of the claimant’s pre-existing injuries.
In August 2012, the claimant made a Part 36 offer of £1.2 million with no deduction for CRU (recoverable benefits). The defendant responded with a Part 36 offer of £200,000 less CRU. The claimant made a further Part 36 offer in November 2012 in the sum of £1.2 million net of CRU.
A five day trial was listed to commence on 2 February 2015 however the matter was settled at a Joint Settlement Meeting in December 2014 just before meeting with quantum experts. The global settlement was £1,175,000 which comprised of a lump sum of £550,000 and Periodical Payment Orders of £125,000 per annum.