£77,500 Recovered for Failure to Provide Prophylactic Antibiotics

28th July 2021 – Our client, a 47-year-old man from Newcastle, was suffering with a right middle trigger finger and was referred to the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust where he underwent surgery in July 2015.Although there were no complaints as to the adequacy of the surgery itself, the Trust breached their own guidelines in failing to administer a course of prophylactic antibiotics (consisting of a single IV dose and 4 subsequent oral doses of Flucloxacillin).

By 2 days post-operatively, our client had developed a deep-seated infection in his right finger / hand. He was admitted back into hospital and a wound swab confirmed that he was suffering with a Flucloxacillin – sensitive infection. He was started on antibiotics and underwent a further 3 operations to remove the infection and to wash out the wound.

These further operations resulted in the surgical incision being extended and led to more extensive and keloid scarring.

Although the infection was removed, our client was left with a right middle finger which had a significant fixed flexion deformity (i.e. the finger could not be straightened). It also resulted in his grip being weaker and painful spasms, such that he was prone to dropping things.

The injury impacted his ability to perform his work and his employer made various adjustments to support his productivity. Although he was not likely to be at risk of losing his job, if he did so he would inevitably find it harder to obtain alternative employment.

After we secured positive expert evidence and submitted a Letter of Claim, the Defendant admitted a breach of duty, (for failing to follow their own guidelines by not providing prophylactic Flucloxacillin), but they denied causation (relying upon population-based research which indicated that prophylactic antibiotics did not reduce the level of post-operative infections, and therefore concluding that our client would likely have suffered the infection in any event).

Initially the Defendant invited us to withdraw the claim which suggestion we declined. Then, after detailed further correspondence, they made an offer of £10,000, which was substantially below our valuation of the case. It was therefore necessary for us to issue Court proceedings. The Defendant maintained their position within their Defence, continued to defend the claim on causation and failed to make any further offers or to engage in settlement negotiations as the claim progressed.

However, just 2 months before Trial, the Defendant agreed to attend a settlement meeting. At that meeting, a settlement in the sum of £77,500 was agreed.

Alex Tengroth, senior solicitor at Fairweathers Solicitors LLP, said “The Defendant put forward and maintained an unexpected Defence in this matter, before settling the claim just before Trial. It remains unclear to me why they could not see that their admitted failure to provide Flucloxacillin, resulting in a Flucloxacillin-sensitive infection, made the case very difficult to defence realistically. Had they properly considered the relevant issues sooner, this claim would have been resolved much earlier. I wish my client well for the future”

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