[2007] LTLPI 22.08.08

Claimant attended First Defendant’s hospital with symptoms of fever, right-sided chest pain and breathlessness. Claimant admitted for investigation and IV antibiotics commenced. Lumbar puncture results revealed possible pneumococcal meningitis. Claimant’s left arm became swollen where cannula for IV therapy was inserted. She developed a compartment syndrome in the arm requiring fasciotomy and necrosis to the tips of middle and ring fingers. She required further tissue release and thereafter pneumococcal infection settled and swelling reduced.

Dressings were removed two months later by which time tissue on fingertips had become gangrenous. Seventeen months later Claimant was admitted to Second Defendant’s hospital for debridement and repair. Following surgery it was noted that the fingers were gangrenous from the mid portion of the middle phalanges, which the treating consultant attributed to tubular dressings having been applied too tightly. Two weeks later the terminal segments of the middle and ring fingers were amputated.

Claimant alleged Defendant had been negligent in inserting the cannula incorrectly into an artery rather than a vein, in delaying identifying the error and failing to take appropriate corrective action. Further, the Claimant alleged negligent delay in performing fasciotomy and inappropriate application of tubular dressing. Liability admitted.

Following amputation Claimant experienced permanent dysfunction affecting grip and ability to use a keyboard. She chose to take her degree course in speech and language therapy on a part-time basis due to difficulties in mobility, as well as emotional and psychological effects (adjustment reaction) of the amputation. Her marriage broke down and she was unable to care for her daughter who suffered from cerebral palsy. Claimant would be disadvantaged on the open labour market.

Out of court settlement: £175,000 (estimated General Damages £20,000).