Claimant receives £75,000 in damages following failure to diagnose tendon damage and delay in treatment - O v Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [03.05.12]

Comment

An out of court settlement was achieved and so the arguments put forward by the parties were not tested in court. However, the case illustrates the difficulties defendants can face in arguing causation, in particular where there have been additional complications such as a post operative infection. Strong expert evidence will be needed to support causation arguments in court.

Background

On 5 December 2009 the Claimant attended the accident and emergency department of a hospital of the Defendant Trust, having sustained a deep cut to his right hand whilst slicing a loaf of bread. On examination he was not found to have tendon damage.

On 13 January 2010 the Claimant attended his GP, who suspected tendon damage and referred him to a hand surgeon. The Claimant was subsequently listed for a two stage tendon graft procedure. Following the first stage of the procedure, he developed a post operative infection and had to be readmitted to hospital.

The Claimant alleged that the Defendant was negligent in failing to carrying out a proper examination on the day of the accident. The Claimant’s expert stated that, had treatment taken place within 48 hours, the hand would be "less deformed, more capable and stronger".

The Defendant admitted breach of duty, but disputed causation. It did not accept that earlier treatment would have resulted in full recovery and stated that an infection could have presented itself following surgery in any event.

Settlement

The out of court settlement was in the sum of £75,000 for total damages. This included general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity of £9,000 and a Smith & Manchester award of £5,000.