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Clarke Willmott successfully settle difficult spinal injury case

CM was on a bouncy castle when he landed awkwardly on his neck. An ambulance was called and he was immobilised at the scene and taken to hospital. The hospital carried out x-rays of his spine which confirmed an L1 fracture which was unfortunately missed by clinicians. He was discharged  that day with analgesia and physiotherapy exercises and told to keep as active as he could in order to help recover from the injury. CM was surprised he was allowed home, as he had assumed that because of the pain he had fractured something.

Once home CM continued to suffer significant pain, but tried to exercise as best he could as he had been advised. The original x-ray took a further six days to be formally reported, and a further seven days before it was reviewed by a clinician in the emergency department. Once it was reviewed CM was recalled immediately and told to attend the hospital as a matter of urgency. He attended the hospital as requested and on arrival was put into a wheelchair, immobilised, and transferred to neurology. He underwent surgery the following day to fix and stabilise the spine. The total delay was 13 days and for those 13 days CM suffered significant pain and discomfort.

The hospital has carried out an internal investigation which accepted that there was a failure to identify an obvious spinal fracture on the x-ray, and also a failure by the consultant in charge to adequately supervise the FY2 doctor who discharged CM home the day of his accident.

CM was left with significant and permanent pain on a daily basis, problems with his bladder and sexual function, and suffering from regular fatigue. He also had to take significant time off work and eventually lost his job. He did find other work but this was lower paid.

Breach of duty was admitted early on by the Defendant but causation remained in issue. Clarke Willmott was unable to obtain supportive evidence in respect of causation and our experts advised that the long term problems that CM had been left with would probably have occurred in any case due to the significant fracture he had suffered. We could not show that his mobility for the 13 days where the injury was undiagnosed made any difference to the outcome.

Settlement was eventually reached in the sum of £7,000 which was mainly for the pain and suffering which CM experienced over those 13 days when his condition was undiagnosed.


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