Jonathan Herbert, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) Offices, has secured £75,000 for a patient after Medway Hospital failed to fully inform him of the risks and benefits of spinal fusion surgery leading to severe disability.
The claimant was a 37 year old man who had been suffering with lower back pain since his early twenties. He was referred to Medway Maritime Hospital and advised to undergo spinal surgery.
The claimant underwent surgery involving decompression and discectomy at L5/S1 and instrumental fusion at L5/S1surgery on his spine but unfortunately he did not benefit from the surgery and his symptoms worsened.
He later underwent bilateral facet joint and sacro-iliac joint injections. Unfortunately, this provided only modest, temporary relief reducing the symptoms by about 30% for a short period.
Around a year after his first surgery he returned to Medway Hospital and was advised that if he did not undergo further fusion surgery he would eventually end up in a wheelchair.
The hospital failed to inform the claimant:
- Of any other non-surgical or conservative treatments that he might try rather than the invasive spinal surgery, despite the fact that such treatments were available;
- That there were only about 30% prospects of surgery being as successful as the previous facet block injections;
- That because the claimant had already had an unsuccessful outcome to surgery, the proposed surgery carried a significant risk of complication;
Given the advice that he had been given, unsurprisingly the claimant considered that he had no choice but to agree to the fusion surgery. This was performed six months later.
Unfortunately this further surgery not only failed to alleviate the symptoms, but also made the symptoms worse. The claimant also suffered a cerebrospinal leak requiring surgical repair. This leak proved difficult to repair requiring a number of subsequent surgical attempts and alternative treatment.
It was the claimant’s case that had he been advised to undergo non-surgical treatment, he would have avoided the spinal fluid leak and other serious post-operative complications, the increased lumbar pain and right leg sciatica resulting in severe disability, debilitating headaches and moderately severe depression.
Jonathan Herbert wrote a letter of claim which the defendant refused to respond to. Proceedings were issued and particulars of claim were served and although the defendants defended the claim they entered into settlement negotiations and the claim was settled for £75,000.
Jonathan Herbert specialises in both informed consent cases and orthopaedic and spinal 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 him on 01892 701226 in confidence.