Total Knee Replacement Surgery Ends In Medical Negligence Claim


The Law Of… Ignoring A Patient's Pain

A catalogue of errors, which began with a total knee replacement, led to years of avoidable pain and suffering for one unfortunate client. Victoria Clark, a Medical Negligence claims Solicitor at Simpson Millar, explains how a substandard level of care led to a successful pursuit of justice.

Background To The Medical Negligence Case

Thirty years prior to the mishandled knee replacement surgery, the claimant in this case (Client A) was involved in a motorcycle accident. On his way to meet friends, a car pulled out in front of him and set Client A on a collision course with the tarmac. This resulted in his left leg being fractured in 4 places, an injury which required 5 operations, including the insertion of metalwork (a k-nail), to realign the damage.

Unfortunately for Client A, he continued to suffer some pain but, with subsequent surgical procedures, this remained manageable.

All this changed when, in 2006, he underwent the fateful total knee replacement (TKR) procedure.

Incorrect Knee Replacement

After ongoing problems with his knee resulted in extended periods of time off work, it was decided that Client A would undergo TKR surgery.

Following the operation, the condition of Client A's knee became progressively worse. He experienced constant pain, swelling and difficulty with walking.  

Although Client A told the consulting surgeon of his difficulties during subsequent appointments, no further action was taken until he was admitted to A&E a whole 3 years later. By now his knee had swollen so badly that he could not move it at all. The swelling was also accompanied by numbness.

This set in motion a series of diagnositic tests, procedures and treatments, including an arthroscopic synovectomy, culminating in the discovery by another orthopaedic surgeon that the initial knee replacement was the wrong size. This was diagnosed as the cause of Client A's now crippling pain and associated problems. The continued presence of the k-nail was also ascribed to being a source of pain and its removal deemed a necessity.

With 6 years having passed since the original TKR operation, Client A underwent surgery to have it replaced with one the correct size. The k-nail was also removed.

Sadly, the damage was already done and, although not as bad as that he experienced following the initial knee replacement, the pain continued. He has since been told that the likelihood is that the pain will persist for the remainder of his life.

A Damning Medical Report

Seeking redress for the years of suffering he had endured, Client A arrived at Simpson Millar and Victoria Clark was tasked with handling the case. An orthopaedic consultant examined the claimant and provided a medical report.

The conclusions drawn by the independent expert included:

  • Had the 2006 knee replacement been successful, he would have had an 80% chance of living pain free
  • Had the 2006 knee replacement been successful, on the balance of probabilities it would have lasted 15-20 years before requiring revision surgery
  • Client A's pain and restrictions will not improve with time
  • Client A is now significantly restricted in the labour market than he otherwise would have been.

The Allegations Of Medical Negligence

A Letter of Claim was sent to the hospital trust responsible for the initial TKR, alleging responsibility for the following negligence:

  • A failure to remove the k-nail inserted in a previous operation
  • A failure to obtain appropriate radiology imaging to ensure the leg was adequately aligned during total knee replacement surgery
  • Misinterpretation of X-rays and failure to identify misalignment in reasonable time
  • A failure to treat Client A with reasonable care and skill.

The consequence of this alleged medical negligence was that the consulting surgeon responsible, along with the hospital trust, had breached their duty of care to Client A. This resulted in the pain he endured, and continues to endure, in the years following the surgery.

What Is A Breach Of Duty Of Care?

Healthcare professionals have a duty of care to their patients. This duty is breached if they fail to perform to the standard required of their profession.

This standard is defined as the measures a reasonably skilled and competent medical professional of a similar level and background takes to reduce the risk of harm to a patient.

If it can be proved that the healthcare professional had a duty of care and that the failure to carry it out to a reasonable standard resulted in injury, there are strong grounds for a personal injury claim due to medical negligence.

Full And Final Settlement

Initially, the hospital trust denied this claim. They took the view that its consulting surgeon had performed an adequate surgical procedure, the results of which were within acceptable limits. Nonetheless, a settlement of £45,000 was offered.

Due to the prospect of potential future financial loss, which was so far unaccounted for, Client A was advised to reject the offer. This was on the grounds that the independent expert's medical evidence supported his case. 

Victoria Clark's advice paid off and she was able to negotiate an increased offer of £62,000 in full and final settlement. This covered Client A's pain and suffering and loss of amenity, along with financial losses and expenses.

On the service he received, Client A commented:

"I highly recommend Simpson Millar LLP. Miss Clark was brilliant in her handling of my case. She listened and understood what I was going through and explained in detail everything that was happening."

"In general Miss Clark was fantastic and I can't thank her enough for what she did."

If you have suffered as a result of medical negligence, you too may be entitled to compensation. To discuss your case, contact Simpson Millar today.

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