Jonathan Herbert, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) offices, has secured £33,000 for a client who ended up having an index finger amputated following a failure to prescribe antibiotics in accordance with the hospital’s own guidelines combined with failures to diagnose infection.
The claimant in his clinical negligence claim was a 40-year-old man who suffered an injury to the index finger of his left non-dominant hand when he was sharpening a knife at home. He attended A&E at Medway Maritime Hospital in East Kent two days later afterwards, having initially dressed the wound at home himself.
The nurse who examined him noted that there was a laceration across the proximal interphalangeal joint of the finger. The wound was cleaned, a dressing was applied and he was given a 5 day course of antibiotics. He was advised to return in an emergency or otherwise to see his GP. The swelling in the finger became worse so he returned to A&E two days later. He was given a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon whom he saw that evening and septic arthritis was diagnosed. He was commenced on intravenous antibiotics and these were administered four times a day. The following day he underwent surgery on the finger where the wound was washed out. Three days later the claimant underwent a second operation to re-explore and wash out the wound. He continued with intravenous antibiotics until his discharge eight days later when he was prescribed a course of oral antibiotics.
The claimant returned to A&E 17 days later because his finger was still swollen and painful. It was examined and recorded that there was no evidence of new infection. He was given analgesics and the wound was re-dressed.
He was seen in the orthopaedic clinic three days later and despite telling the registrar repeatedly that the finger did not feel right, he was advised to keep bending it and was referred for hand therapy. It was planned to see him in the orthopaedic clinic again in three weeks’ time but in fact the claimant was suffering from ongoing infection in the joint at that time.
There followed a long series of attendances at A&E and the orthopaedic clinic. He also received physiotherapy treatment and consulted his GP in order to be signed off work. He had a manual job and his employers were unwilling to take him back to work until he was fully fit.
Finally, almost exactly one year after the original injury had occurred, the claimant did not believe that his finger would ever return to its original state and he could no longer tolerate the pain and inconvenience. He had become depressed and was unable to work. He requested amputation of the finger and this was carried out. Although he returned to work some three months after the amputation, he eventually lost his job and was significantly disadvantaged on the job market in his search for employment. In addition to the pain and suffering he endured before the amputation, he then suffered from phantom pain and required treatment for that.
Jonathan Herbert, acting for the claimant, was able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement for him to compensate him for his pain and suffering and the loss of prospects on the job market.
Jonathan Herbert specialises in clinical negligence cases. If you would like to ask Jonathan a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any clinical negligence, contact Jonathan at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701226 in confidence.