We acted for a young man in his claim for compensation after he received inadequate medical treatment following an accident at school. During a rugby match, our client sustained a rare but potentially fatal shoulder injury in the form of a fracture and dislocation of the sternoclavicular joint – an orthopaedic emergency due to the proximity of the joint to vital vascular and respiratory structures. Our client attended A&E with a history of direct trauma to the clavicle (collarbone) and breathing difficulties. An x-ray was taken, but the injury was missed and he was incorrectly diagnosed with a soft tissue injury.
We obtained independent medical opinion that it was indefensible to miss the injury in view of the history and clinical examination, which would have revealed marked abnormalities of the sternoclavicular joint. Our client should have been referred to a surgical consultant and had a CT scan within the hour. He required urgent surgery with cardiothoracic expertise. Instead, our client was reassured and discharged from A&E without any follow-up arranged or any analgesia.
He attended a virtual fracture clinic the following week, where a further opportunity to diagnose the injury was missed.
After a difficult and painful journey, the injury was eventually diagnosed some months later and our client underwent a delayed chronic sternoclavicular joint stabilisation procedure (a delay of 72-77 days), which was only partially successful in improving the alignment of his shoulder. Unfortunately, by this point, bony healing had already taken place and it was too late to restore anatomic alignment of the clavicle and sternoclavicular joint. Our client has been left with a permanently dislocated joint and an altered appearance.
This young gentleman was extremely outdoorsy, sporty and rugby was a particular passion. He had his heart set on a manual/vocational career. Sadly, both the Claimant’s treating surgeon and the expert in the claim do not sanction a return to contact sports, which is life-changing for him. He had to change his university degree and re-think his future career plans. Tasks above shoulder height are now managed with pain relief. As he becomes older, he will require a degree of assistance to undertake such tasks.
Natalie Hirst said, “The Trust admitted some elements of the claim at an early stage which meant the claim was settled without the need to issue court proceedings. The compensation will enable our client to have future surgery and to ensure he is not at a financial disadvantage in the future. Like so many of our clients, his hope is that lessons have been learned and that such injuries are recognised promptly given the potentially drastic consequences of failing to do so.”
“Natalie Hirst did her very best for us throughout the whole lengthy process. Her attention to detail was exceptional and she was very patient and helpful in obtaining all the information that she needed from us which was quite extensive. She researched our son’s injury and surgery and we feel that she went over and above to achieve the best possible outcome for us. Thank you!”Client testimonial