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22 October 2022 | Case Study | Article by Helen Budge

Over £2 million secured after doctors fail to diagnose spinal infection

John, who at the time was in his mid-forties, was admitted to hospital in February 2014 as he was feeling unwell, had passed out and had a high temperature. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and treated with antibiotics. During his stay in hospital he developed back pain. A CT scan showed a burst fracture of one of his vertebrae, but despite this he was discharged home on 5 March.

On 20 April 2014 John awoke with no feeling in his legs. His brother phoned for an ambulance and John was rushed back to hospital. A scan was performed following which John underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his spine. However he was left permanently paralysed from the waist down.

The burst fracture seen on the scan in February 2014 was caused by an infection in John’s spine. The hospital admitted that it had failed to undertake further investigations which would have led to this diagnosis. Had it done so, John would have been treated with a high dose of antibiotics and he would not have been left paralysed.

John, who had a pre-existing history of mental health problems, underwent rehabilitation at the regional spinal injuries unit before returning home to live with his brother. However, as this was a regular 2-storey home, he was restricted to one room which he could access. John therefore had to move into a nursing home where most of the other residents were elderly.

John’s brother came to us after instructing another firm of solicitors and following an admission by the hospital that it was responsible for his injuries. We were able to settle the claim before trial for a lump sum of more than £2 million. In addition to this, John will receive a substantial payment each year to pay for his ongoing care.

Helen Budge, Partner within our Clinical Negligence team, acted for John and comments:

“Nothing can make up for the loss of John’s mobility as a result of the hospital’s negligence. It has had a devastating impact both on his life and on that of his family. However he can look forward to a future in his own home, a bungalow which will be adapted to meet his needs, and a 24-hour care package to ensure that he is properly looked after for the rest of his life. John is a lovely man from a close and supportive family and I am delighted to have helped them achieve a settlement which will make a real difference.”

The names and identifying details of the client have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals involved.

Author bio

Helen Budge is a Partner in our clinical negligence department. She has more than 20 years of experience providing legal advice and support to claimants who have suffered serious injuries and has specialised in clinical negligence cases for most of her career. Helen deals with a broad range of medical negligence claims including brain injury cases (both adult and child), amputations, fatal claims and spinal injury cases. She has also represented many children who have cerebral palsy as a result of brain damage at birth.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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