Importance of patient awareness

Mr P

This case highlights the importance of ensuring all patients are aware of all the possible treatment options available to them and the risks of undergoing surgery.

Hannah Hughes, medical negligence lawyer

Our customer Mr P was left in pain and needing further surgery after surgeons failed to discuss all the treatment options available to him.

In May 2013, Mr P was suffering problems with his right shoulder. He was referred by his GP to the hospital, due to the increasing pain, stiffness and lack of function.

At hospital, an MRI scan was carried out which showed moderately arthritic changes in the shoulder joint, with a small interstitial tear; the surgeon recommended a shoulder replacement.

Mr P gave his consent for the surgery to take place, and his consent form indicated he would benefit from decreased pain and improved function following the shoulder replacement. After the procedure, Mr P was advised that everything was fine and that he would be seen by a physiotherapist the next day. He was discharged later that day.

During his surgery, however, the surgeon had proceeded to carry out a hemiarthroplasty, a surgical procedure that replaces only one half of the shoulder joint, and not a total shoulder replacement. The physiotherapist confirmed this the following day. There had been no discussion with Mr P about a hemiarthroplasty; he had discussed it with others who had undergone a shoulder replacement and was aware those undergoing a hemiarthroplasty had poorer outcomes. Had Mr P been offered the choice between the two surgeries, he would have opted for the total shoulder replacement.

Over the following six months Mr P attended follow-up appointments at the hospital, where it was noted that there was a weakness in the external rotation and elevation, along with continued restriction of movement and reduction of power despite continuing physiotherapy.

In early September, Mr P returned to his GP practice as the pain in his shoulder was affecting his sleep. He was provided with Fentanyl patches for pain control. Mr P underwent physiotherapy for around eight months but was still having trouble lifting his arm any higher than around eight inches.

The following year, in October 2014, Mr P was advised to see another consultant at the hospital regarding his shoulder. He attended the appointment and the consultant arranged for Mr P to have an x-ray.  The results came back a few weeks later and confirmed he had only been given a partial shoulder placement. A shaft of metal had been fitted into his arm, with no cup, and this meant that the metal was grinding Mr P’s shoulder down.

In December, Mr P consented for either a total shoulder replacement or a reverse shoulder replacement. The following month, a further x-ray showed superior subluxation of the humeral head with the irregularity of the under surface of the acromion, consistent with impingement.

In February 2015, Mr P underwent revision surgery. The surgeon removed the head of the metal shaft and replaced it with a smaller one and a cup cemented in.

After the surgery, the movement in Mr P’s shoulder increased and he was pleased with the results. He was now able to lift his arm a little higher and his pain was reduced. He does, unfortunately, still continue to have issues with his shoulder and is looking at further treatment options.

Mr P contacted Fletchers to investigate a potential medical negligence claim against the hospital due to their failure to perform the appropriate surgery. We obtained Mr P’s medical records and a report from a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon, which supported Mr P’s claim.

The hospital trust subsequently admitted there was a failure to discuss all reasonable variant treatment options with Mr P, prior to his surgery being performed. The hospital trust also admitted that Mr P would have avoided the surgery in February 2015. We successfully settled Mr P’s case for £25,000.

Hannah Hughes, a medical negligence lawyer, handled Mr P’s case and commented on its successful resolution:

This case highlights the importance of ensuring all patients are aware of all the possible treatment options available to them and the risks of undergoing surgery. I hope that this prompts hospitals and their treating surgeons to put checks in place to ensure patients are fully informed and consented before surgery is performed to avoid patients suffering as Mr P did.

We hope Mr P’s compensation will help him put his negligent treatment behind him and provide him with some financial security for the immediate future.

 

Hannah Hughes

Hannah Hughes

Case Lawyer

Hannah is a fee earner within the team she is responsible for drafting letters of claim. She will have an in-depth understanding of the case in order to draft the letter of claim, which will outline the formal allegations we are making. Hannah proactively chases a response to these letters and evaluates the quantum of the case. She will also collate and consider the customer’s losses, and negotiate with the Defendant if an offer of settlement is made.

Key Case Details

Injury
Mr P suffered a period of avoidable pain between August 2013 and Feb 2015 when he underwent definitive surgery. Had he had the appropriate surgery in August 2013, he would have avoided the surgery performed in February 2015.
Resolution
We investigated Mr P's claim against the hospital due to their failure to perform the appropriate surgery. We obtained Mr P’s medical records and a report from a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon, which supported Mr P’s claim.
Outcome
The hospital trust subsequently admitted there was a failure to discuss all reasonable variant treatment options with Mr P, prior to his surgery being performed. The hospital trust also admitted that Mr P would have avoided the surgery in February 2015. We successfully settled Mr P’s case for £25,000.

Further Reading…

A terrible ordeal

Tracy Smith

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