£160,000 recovered for negligent ankle surgery

Our client, a 78 year old man from Dover, Kent, suffered a fracture to his right ankle and attended the Buckland Hospital, Dover in October 2010 where he was x-rayed before being referred to the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford where he was initially treated conservatively.

However, the fracture failed to heal and it was decided that he should undergo a right hind foot arthrodesis using an intra-medullary nail to stabilise the fracture / the joint.

That operation was performed by Mr Southgate on 27.05.11 but our client failed to improve and it was considered that the nail was loose.

In fact, it was confirmed by our orthopaedic expert that the radiology clearly demonstrated that the nail was badly positioned in that it failed to pass through the main body of the talus, such that the fracture was never going to unite / the fusion was never going to be successful.

As a result a revision operation had to be undertaken on 27.06.12 to remove the nail and insert a replacement. However, there was a failure to remove one of the screws from the nail such that, upon extraction, the nail damaged the bone and prevented insertion of a new nail. Again, our expert stated that such surgery was negligently performed.

Our client ought to have had a solidly united / fused ankle joint which would have minimised his pain and made him more mobile. Instead he was left with an unstable ankle in a cast / walking boot, which was essentially useless, and which remained incredibly painful.

Further treatment options, including Exogen bone therapy failed to bring any improvement in his condition and it was ultimately concluded that the best course of action would be to amputate the right lower leg – although due to an underlying heart condition our client was declared unfit for a general anaesthetic and so cannot proceed with such surgery.

Having obtained very clear and supportive expert evidence, it was surprising that the Defendant sought to deny the claim on liability. Court proceedings were issued and the claim was advanced towards a liability-only Trial.

Shortly before the Trial, the Defendant proposed a ‘round table meeting’, and at that meeting (which took place just 2 weeks before the start of the Trial) they engaged in settlement negotiations for the first time which ultimately concluded in a settlement in the sum of £160,000 before costs.

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of the claim, said “Given the very clear and robust evidence we had from our orthopaedic expert, which had been disclosed at an early stage, it is difficult to understand on what basis the Defendant thought they could defend this claim.

In the end, common sense prevailed and a settlement was achieved which avoided a costly Trial.

I hope that my client is able to put the compensation to good use in order to make his daily life more comfortable.”