Case Study – Failed to perform a scan
When you attend your GP, a dentist or a hospital, you expect that the person you see will be a medical professional who is able to identify, at the very least, the likely cause of your symptoms, or any potential problems. GP’s can do a wide range of things for you, but sometimes they need to refer you on to a specialist elsewhere. The same goes for A&E: if you attend with a suspected broken arm, you can reasonably expect the A&E Consultant to refer you to Radiology and Orthopaedics because these are the right departments to diagnose and treat you. Your dentist is the same again, dentists can perform many procedures, but their skills do have a limit and sometimes, a surgical procedure is needed.
Key to diagnosing many conditions and complications are scans, whether X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI or CT. A scan can see, at least to some degree, inside you and allow a practitioner to diagnose your condition more accurately, or see If there is a complication that will make treatment more difficult or complex.
The Hippocratic Oath that Doctor’s take states “First do not harm” and whilst today this symbolic Oath is not legally binding it is a general starting point for the actual Guidelines, Rules and Procedures which govern treatment by all kinds of medical practitioners. Ultimately, negligence is defined by the “Bolam Test”, which stems from a 1953 case involving a Mr Bolam. The Court set a standard which said that if any act of treatment, or not giving treatment, fell below the standard of a responsible body of similarly qualified professionals, it is generally considered to be negligent.
MG Legal – Medical Negligence, when a scan is not performed
MG Legal’s No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitors were approached by Mrs M, to make a claim for personal injury on the grounds of medical negligence.
The background is that Mrs M had been referred from her GP, through various channels to a specialist ENT surgeon. This was the correct thing to do as Mrs M needed to have an operation on her inner ear. To perform the operation, the surgeon had to cut into the area around the ear, which runs the risk of severing several facial nerves and also important blood vessels.
The surgeon commenced the procedure using only the information on Mrs M’s file, cutting into her around the ear. As the surgeon began to cut further, he noticed abnormal amounts of blood coming from his incision and the procedure was abandoned in order to treat Mrs M’s bleeding. After waking up, not only had Mrs M still got the original problem, but she also had a facial weakness, known as Bell’s Palsy.
It took Mrs M some considerable time for her face to recover and as she was already very anxious about having the operation, she then found it even more terrifying to return to have the actual surgery completed.
How did MG Legal’s Medical Negligence Solicitors help Mrs M?
As with all of our clients, MG Legal’s solicitors specialising in medical negligence claims, ensured that Mrs M was assigned to a specialist Medical Negligence Personal Injury Solicitor, that had experience in dealing with the injuries sustained to Mrs M. At MG Legal, we know the importance of trusting the person you are dealing with, as well as believing wholeheartedly it does not make for the best working relationship if there are too many people involved. With MG Legal, you will likely deal with only one or two people throughout the entire claim, which means you do not have to tell your story every time and of course, your specialist medical negligence solicitor will know your case inside out.
Mrs M’s expert medical negligence solicitor discussed the procedure and the way in which the claim would progress. This always starts with obtaining medical records to see what has occurred and whether the usual practices have been followed. Whilst your Solicitor is not medically qualified, everyone in the Medical Negligence Department has extensive experience of reading and interpreting notes, meaning that we can identify the aspects of the case that will be of interest to the medical experts who can specifically comment on the standard of care given and where any failings occurred.
Mrs M’s Solicitor reviewed her notes and identified that no scan had taken place prior to the operation commencing. From here, Mrs’s M’s expert Medical Negligence Solicitor wrote to the Hospital where the procedure was performed. At the same time, a medical expert, an ENT Consultant, was approached to review the notes and provide a report.
The expert’s report stated that the lack of any scan of the area had led directly to the surgeon who operated on Mrs M failing to identify an unusually placed structure, which whilst completely benign in it’s own right, meant that when cutting into what would have been the correct area on most patients, was the wrong area for Mrs M. The surgeon had managed to sever both nerves and blood vessels, which caused the facial weakness and the profuse bleeding.
The case was, in truth, quite simple in that once the failure to undertake a scan of Mrs M had been identified, It was very much cut and dried that the act of severing those blood vessels and nerves fell below the standard of a body of similarly qualified practitioners.
The expert stated that a responsible ENT surgeon would have arranged for a scan of the area prior to the operation and at the very least, read the radiologist’s report. The expert went further and stated that the best practice is for surgeons to also review the radiology themselves as a “double-check” to ensure all is well.
How did MG Legal progress the claim?
In the first instance, the hospital at fault denied that there was any negligence, despite the opinion of an independent expert and the clear lack of any scan done pre-operation. MG Legal had a detailed discussion with Mrs M and explained the content of the medical report, cross-referencing this with what Mrs M Herself had been told by the surgeon after the surgery.
As Mrs M had developed a severe anxiety about having further medical treatment, MG Legal also obtained evidence from a well -respected Clinical Psychologist, who not only confirmed the psychological injuries she had sustained as a result of the abortive surgery, but also advised on the best treatment to restore Mrs M’s mental health.
As liability was denied and there was no obvious sign that this could be changed with arguments and discussion, a common way to “thrash out” matters sometimes, we recommended to Mrs M that she should issue proceedings in the County Court.
The Court process can seem daunting, however, it is ultimately one that MG Legal use on a daily basis and so, we assured Mrs M that we would guide her through the Court process, step by step, ensuring she was absolutely informed and comfortable all the way through. Commencing Court proceedings is by no means a guarantee of “going to Court” and in fact, only a very small fraction, perhaps 1%, of our cases actually reach Trial, where the client must attend Court and give evidence.
Mrs M trusted to our advice and the Court proceedings to commence the claim in the County Court were drafted for her approval. The proceedings were commenced and before long, the hospital had filed a Defence, rigorously stating that they disputed the matter.
How did MG Legal resolve the claim?
Despite the strongly worded Defence filed, Mrs M trusted to her expert Medical Negligence Solicitor to succeed and following a detailed deconstruction of the Defence, highlighting the errors and gaps in their arguments, offers to settle were made to Mrs M.
Not being satisfied with simply settling the case, Mrs M’s Solicitor discussed the true value of the claim, including the likely range of awards that might be made if the Court assessed the matter. Mrs M’s dedicated Personal Injury Solicitor negotiated forcefully and obtained an offer at the top end of the range, ensuring that Mrs M not only got the justice she deserved in the hospital conceding fault, but that she received the best possible compensation for the injuries she suffered.
Whilst it is not yet possible to “undo” the acts of negligence, MG Legal’s Medical Negligence team ensured Mrs M received the justice she deserved, the best possible award and that she was able to make the fullest possible recovery. We are pleased to report that with the help of further medical treatment, including some which was funded by the award Mrs M received, she made a full recovery from her physical and psychological injuries.
How can MG Legal help you?
We will do our very best to help everyone who approaches us and so, if you believe you have been injured as a result of medical negligence, simply get in touch and one of our Medical Negligence Experts will contact you straight away to discuss your claim.
All claims accepted are taken on a Conditional Fee (no win no fee) Agreement basis and if we need to make investigations before agreeing to take on your claim, we will conduct these investigations free of charge so that there is no need for you to worry about paying legal fees at a time when you have your own health to consider.
Get in touch by phone, email, call-back form on our website or by visiting one of our offices at Garstang, Lancaster or Longridge.