Incorrect metal plates may have been used to treat fractured bones, warns Senior Solicitor

18th February 2019

The NHS has warned that incorrect metal plates may have been used to treat patients suffering from fractured bones over the past 12 months.

Hospitals have been advised to review the X rays of patients who have undergone surgery for fractures of the long bones, such as arms and legs, over the past year.

It has been revealed that patients at one hospital trust had a flexible plate meant for reconstruction inserted instead of a rigid one for fractures. The unnamed trust where it has happened has identified seven cases.

NHS Improvement fears that the same mistake could have been made in other hospitals although they are not aware of any other Trusts being involved at this stage.

The mistake has come about because the design of some flexible reconstruction plates changed in early 2018, meaning that they looked like the more rigid plates. As a result they may have been implanted incorrectly.

In one  case, a patient had fallen and the plate had buckled, meaning that they had to undergo further surgery to correct the problem.

Another patient needed more surgery after their plate failed when they were having post-op physiotherapy.

Christian Beadell, senior solicitor in the Medical Negligence Department at Fletchers, said:

“The unnamed trust at the heart of this report has sparked fears across the NHS that inappropriate flexible plates have been mistakenly used in the repair of long bone fractures when the intention was to use more rigid stable plates. The patient safety alert is limited in that it does not identify the trust which has reported 7 errors thus far and the uncertainty will be of concern to patients who have undergone such procedures since February 2018.

“The guidance indicates that such events should be reported as Never Events and should notify any patients that have been affected.

“In the event that a patient needs to undergo revision surgery or suffers losses associated with any investigations, they would be entitled to bring a claim for compensation.”

NHS Improvements is asking hospitals to review cases going back to February 2018 – which amounts to approximately 5,500 cases being checked.

Anyone affected will be notified by their hospital.

To see the NHS Improvement patients safety alert, click here: https://improvement.nhs.uk/documents/3750/Patient_Safety_Alert_-_Fracture_fixation_plates_FINAL_v2.pdf

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