Clinical Negligence

Extravasation injury during general anaesthetic

This clinical negligence case arose out of left hand tissue damage caused by drugs administered during general anaesthetic which leaked out of the vein into the surrounding tissue (an extravasation injury). ZG suffered residual scarring, sensory changes, discomfort, temperature sensitivity and hand dysfunction.

In June 2019, ZG attended a private hospital for a laparoscopic total hysterectomy. She was prepared for surgery and the anaesthetic chart documented insertion of a cannula into the left hand. At the time of insertion, ZG warned the anaesthetist that the insertion of the cannula was painful.

Induction of anaesthesia occurred, with various drugs administered via the cannula throughout surgery.

When ZG awoke from surgery, her left hand was painful. She noticed that the cannula had been removed and recited into her right hand. Nursing records documented checks of the cannula in the right hand. However, there was no record of when or why the cannula had been recited from the left to right hand.

Following discharge, ZG complained of a swollen left wrist and pain. Once the swelling had subsided, a scab began to form. She was prescribed antibiotics for a suspected infection. The scab healed and left a tender 5cm area of redness.

ZG was subsequently seen by a hand specialist and it was documented that she was suffering from residual scarring, sensory change, discomfort, temperature sensitivity, stiffness and consequent dysfunction. She was advised that she had suffered injury caused by an irritant anaesthetic agent which had leaked out of the vein into the surrounding tissue (an extravasation injury).

The neurological injury was deemed to be permanent. The scarring covered an area of 2 x 1.5cm, and it was anticipated that this would persist, with the hope that the discolouration would improve over time.

We were contacted by ZG to investigate a clinical negligence claim.
Medical records were requested, and a report was obtained from a consultant in anaesthesia who reported that her care fell below an acceptable standard. Thereafter, a report was obtained from a consultant in plastic and reconstructive surgery, who confirmed that the breach caused ZG’s injury.

Investigations were undertaken as to the likely value of the claim. ZG was examined by the expert and nerve conduction studies were undertaken.

A letter of claim setting out the allegations of negligence was sent to the defendant. The defendant denied liability but nonetheless the defendant agreed to a financial settlement.

Christina Mallery specialises in claims relating to extravasation injuries. If you would like to ask Christina a question about a potential clinical negligence claim, or if you have a general query about any personal injury claim, contact Christina at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701183 in confidence.

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