Inadequate treatment at A&E following an ice-skating accident

We acted for a young lady in her claim for compensation after she received inadequate treatment at A&E following an ice-skating accident. Our client suffered a deep laceration to the base of her thumb causing serious nerve and tendon damage. She should have been referred to a hand specialist immediately and had surgery within 48 hours.  Instead, she was stitched up and discharged. 

The case investigation

We obtained our client’s medical records and considered that the examination recorded in the notes fell below an acceptable standard. We set up a ‘no win no fee’ agreement and obtained independent advice from a specialist hand surgeon who considered that the care afforded to our client had been negligent. We wrote to the Trust who obtained their own independent expert evidence. The Trust admitted straight away that an examination of the hand should have taken place (specifically to include movement of the thumb) and that failure to assess for this specific movement represented a breach of duty. Their expert agreed that this type of injury should have resulted in a referral to the Regional Plastic Surgery or Hand Specialist Team. Due to the failure to diagnose and treat her injuries correctly, our client underwent a delayed surgical tendon repair and suffered from complications including infection and granuloma. She required several more surgical procedures including a re-repair of her tendon.

Working out the settlement 

At the time of her injury, our client was 17 years old and training to do her dream job of dog grooming. Her injuries prevented her from continuing with this. Her recovery was protracted and she has been left with a permanent weaker, stiffer and more uncomfortable thumb. Repetitive activity remains an issue for her. The physical and mental impact of her injury took its toll, but she is learning to adapt and gradually increase her activities and feels more positive about her future. Thanks to the early admission from the Trust, most of our work involved quantifying our client’s losses.   Past and future needs were assessed, quantified and a suitable settlement figure was agreed with the Trust’s insurer without the need to issue court proceedings.

Compensatory awards in such claims aim to ensure that someone will not be worse-off as a result of negligent treatment. We recognised that because of the nature of our client’s nerve injury, she would always have suffered from scar sensitivity, reduced sensation and cold intolerance, and so it was important to ensure that the Trust’s liability was limited to avoidable injury only.

Natalie Hirst

More about Natalie and her work

Natalie specialises in medical negligence cases, helping individuals who have suffered complex orthopaedic or neurological injuries because a medical practitioner has breached their duty of care. This could be where there has been a delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or inappropriate treatment.  She typically handles cases involving fatal accidents, cancer, cauda equina syndrome, haemochromatosis and surgical injury.