A man suffered 13 years of pain after a washer wasn’t removed from his ankle during surgery.
In 2000, Ben* had an accident whilst playing football, he was tackled and fell to the floor. He was taken via an ambulance to hospital where they diagnosed him with a fracture dislocation of the left ankle.
Ben was admitted that day and had surgery several days later to insert a screw into his ankle.
Around three years after breaking his ankle, Ben returned to have the screw removed from his foot under local anaesthetic. He was discharged the same day after the procedure was carried out and told he should expect to be in some pain.
Ben carried on as normal but also had some residual pain; it would get worse if the weather was cold or when his ankle was hit. He found it would also ache whenever he did any kind of exercise. Ben thought the pain was normal and caused by his initial injury so didn’t feel it was necessary to go to his GP about it.
At the beginning 2014, Ben was working and was kicked in the leg, which caused severe pain to his ankle. He remained in pain for several days before attending his GP as he needed more time off work. Ben’s GP referred him for an x-ray which he was advised didn’t show any damage. Despite this, Ben required a further four weeks off work as he was unable to place any additional weight on his foot.
In the summer of 2016, Ben began having increased pain in his ankle and could feel a slight protrusion. He attended his GP a month later and he advised this ankle didn’t appear normal, referring him to hospital for an x-ray.
An x-ray was carried out on Ben’s ankle and he was told by the radiology staff, a metal washer had been left in his ankle. The x-ray was sent to his GP and he was advised to return to his GP for it to be removed.
Ben’s GP referred him to Orthopaedics at a private hospital. Ben attended the hospital and met with a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who advised there was clearly something left in his ankle and suspected it was the washer on the surface of the bone.
An MRI scan of Ben’s ankle was done a few weeks later which confirmed there was a washer in Ben’s ankle. His surgeon advised there would be no further problems caused by the washer and it was probably rubbing against the bone which was causing the pain. Ben was told it would be a simple procedure to remove the washer.
A few months later Ben underwent an operation to remove the washer. It took around 4-6 weeks for Ben to recover and after this period his ankle was in much better condition. He still suffers from some reduced movement but no longer has any pain.
Following the removal of the washer, Ben contacted Fletchers to bring a medical negligence claim against the hospital Trust. We handled Ben’s claim and the hospital admitted breach of duty for failing to remove the washer back in 2003 when the metalwork had been removed. We settled Ben’s case in February 2018 for £7,000.
Throughout the period that the washer has been in Ben’s ankle, it would be very painful for him to walk long distances or play sports. Ben has now been able to get back to doing some of the things he did before and has recently run a half marathon.
Liam Bestwick, a medical negligence Litigation Executive at Fletchers, handled Ben’s case and said
I am delighted that we have managed to obtain a settlement of £7,000 for Ben. As a result of leaving the washer in his ankle, he required an additional procedure and had some pain for 13 years. This significantly impacted on his ability to play sports and lead an active lifestyle. Due to this, I am extremely pleased that we have managed to achieve a great result for Ben and wish him all the best for the future.
*Ben’s name has been changed to protect his identity.