Clinical Negligence

Toes misaligned during hammertoe and bunion surgery

Mrs E suffered with hammertoe (bending of one or both joints in the toe) in her 2nd toe, as well as hallux valgus (bunion) deformity causing misalignment of her big toe on her left foot.

She was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambridgeshire, who agreed to performed corrective surgery by way of a lateral soft tissue release, 1st metatarsal scarf osteotomy plus Akin’s osteotomy and 2nd toe PIPJ fusion.  A K-wire was inserted to told the corrected hammertoe in place and screws where inserted to secure the big toe, following the removal of the bunion and re-alignment.

Mrs E was informed the surgery had been successful.  At her follow up 5 days after the surgery x-rays were taken which showed there was some medial displacement and angulation.  Despite this Mrs E was informed she was making good progress.

Mrs E had not had a good opportunity to see the positioning of her toes at that stage due to swelling and bandages which were in place.

6 weeks after her surgery she returned to have the K-wires removed and finally had an opportunity to see her foot clearly.  Although her foot was still swollen, it was clear to Mrs E that her toes were misaligned.  She raised her concerns to the surgeon, in particular about the 2nd toe, and asked whether she should have the toe taped in place or whether she needed to wear a toe divider.  She was reassured by the surgeon that once the swelling had gone down the toes would straighten.  She was referred for physiotherapy.

Approximately 3 weeks later Mrs E had a further follow up appointment.  By this stage she could not mobilise her big toe and her 2nd toe were set at a bizarre angle.  She had to wear toe dividers in order to walk on the foot and could not fit into any of her old shoes.

The surgeon confirmed that the screws should have been placed higher in her foot and that the K-wire had been put in her foot in the wrong position.  Mrs E was told further surgery may be needed.

Mrs E instructed Fiona Follis, specialist clinical negligence lawyer to act on her behalf in a claim for compensation.  Fiona obtained medical evidence from an orthopaedic surgeon.  Liability was admitted in relation to the 2nd toe, but denied regarding the big toe.

Mrs E underwent further surgery 6 months after her original surgery, and an updated report was obtained from our expert who confirmed further fusion surgery would be required.

Fiona negotiated a settlement of £15,000 for Mrs E to compensate her for her pain and suffering and to pay for her future surgery needs.

Fiona Follis specialises in orthopaedic cases.  If you would like to ask Fiona a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any clinical negligence, contact Fiona Follis at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701286 in confidence.

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