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Compensation following negligent ankle fusion surgery

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The surgery was performed without the use of surgical screws

Mr Hamilton, aged 62, ran his own electrical engineering company for a number of years. Unfortunately, he had a fall and fractured his right calcaneus (the heel bone). The fracture healed, but over the years he developed arthritis in his ankle joint. He was placed under the care of the orthopaedic clinic at his local hospital in the East Midlands.

Ankle fusion surgery to eliminate pain

Some years later he experienced pain in his right foot whilst walking. The pain affected his ability to walk and his quality of life. He was examined at the orthopaedic clinic and advised to have surgery to fuse his ankle and subtalar joint. This surgical procedure, known as ankle arthrodesis or ankle fusion, joins together the main bones of the ankle joint and the two joint surfaces which generate the pain are removed.

He was advised that after the surgery, he would have a below-knee plaster cast for a period of six weeks. Mr Hamilton agreed to have ankle fusion surgery, which was carried out by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, who was also a professor of orthopaedic surgery.

Operation made things worse

The surgery was performed without the use of surgical screws, as is usually the case, and instead used bone graft from the hip. After surgery and removal of the plaster cast, Mr Hamilton had increased pain throughout his foot and into his lower leg. His right foot did not feel right and appeared to be at an odd angle.

Mr Hamilton returned to the orthopaedic clinic, where the same surgeon agreed our client’s foot appeared to be out of position and recommended another operation to re-set the bones. Mr Hamilton was anxious about having another operation and sought the advice of his GP, who referred him for a second opinion.

Procedure had not fused the bones correctly

A different surgeon examined Mr Hamilton and ordered special x-rays and a CT scan of his foot. It was found that the bones had not been fused correctly. The second surgeon recommended a “re-do” operation, this time using screws to fuse the bones rather than relying on a bone graft.

Throughout this time Mr Hamilton was restricted in his daily activities and continued to suffer ongoing symptoms of pain. He was unable to work and required additional care and support from his partner.

Access Legal Solicitors pursue a claim for negligence

Mr Hamilton sought legal advice and instructed Sumit Morjaria, a specialist solicitor in medical negligence law, at Access Legal Solicitors to pursue a claim against the surgeon for negligent ankle fusion surgery.

Supportive evidence was obtained from a specialist expert ankle surgeon, who commented that the surgical technique employed by the first surgeon had not been recommended for adults in the last 50 years and was therefore no longer the expected standard. The expert was also of the opinion that this was the cause of the additional pain and need for revision ankle surgery.

The case was settled out of Court for a substantial amount of compensation which, in addition to compensation for the pain and suffering caused, included the private hospital costs of ankle surgery, additional care and loss of earnings.

Note: Our client name has been changed for anonymity purposes.

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