£32k following negligent spinal surgery

24 January 2023

We secured more than £30,000 in medical negligence compensation after our client underwent inappropriate spinal surgery that made her condition worse.

Jenny Tetlow, Senior Associate in our medical negligence team, successfully secured £32,000 for her client after a surgeon recommended the wrong course of action, leading to the woman needing further surgery.

Jenny said: “We are delighted with this result which will allow our client to move forward with her life.”

Our client had endured years of back pain before undergoing spinal decompression surgery in May 2017. Prior to the surgery she had tried all manner of treatments, including physiotherapy, acupuncture and steroid injections, in a bid to relieve her symptoms.

It became apparent that surgery was required and the client, who had the benefit of private medical cover through work, was counselled for surgery by a Consultant Spinal Surgeon.

The surgeon advised the client that her symptoms could be treated by inserting an Aspen interspinous fixation device. Unfortunately, following surgery, the client did not recover as anticipated and, in fact, her symptoms worsened.

Jenny said: “My client’s symptoms were so severe that she was unable to leave the house without assistance and could not walk even moderate distances. The deterioration in her symptoms affected both her work and personal life.”

Some months later, our client sought a second opinion from a different surgeon who agreed to perform revision surgery. That took place in March 2018 and, after a six-week recovery period, the client’s debilitating symptoms had resolved.

The client instructed Higgs to investigate further and to pursue a claim against the original surgeon.

In the course of investigations, it transpired that the Aspen interspinous fixation device should never have been used. It was unsuitable in view of the client’s particular characteristics and as such, was destined to fail.

This led to Higgs’ client undergoing an avoidable revision procedure as well as a protracted period of painful symptoms which worsened the client’s quality of life.

The defendant admitted liability at the Letter of Response stage and made an early offer of settlement for £10,000. Higgs advised its client to reject this offer which did not reasonably compensate the woman for the severity and duration of her symptoms or the avoidable surgery.

Furthermore, this offer did not take into account the level of care and assistance which had been provided to the woman by her family and friends during the period between surgeries.

Higgs proceeded to obtain further evidence to assist in valuing the claim and, following a series of negotiations, was able to settle the claim for £32,000.

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