Victory for a former patient of the Northern Devonshire Healthcare Trust, who lost his leg due to medical negligence and a failed diagnosis.
A former patient of Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has successfully settled a claim against North Devon District hospital for a substantial sum, after it failed to diagnose the developing Compartment Syndrome which led to the loss of his right leg below the knee.
Mr Appleby instructed Barrister Jonathan Zimmern of Fieldfisher to investigate a claim against North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust after he alleged that his doctors failed to properly diagnose and treat Compartment Syndrome in his leg which resulted from a serious road traffic accident he had been injured in the previous day. As a result of this delay, Mr Appleby ultimately required an amputation.
Mr Appleby had previously been awarded compensation for the original injuries sustained in the road traffic accident in a separate claim for damages. However, he alleged that the additional delay in treating those injuries caused catastrophic consequences.
Prior to his accident, Mr Appleby had been a fit and healthy young man who ran triathlons, climbed and was a Territorial Army reservist; He also ran his own successful business as an osteopath.
Failure to Diagnose
On 2 June 2005, Mr Appleby was involved in a road traffic accident on Exmoor and suffered substantial injuries to his right leg. He underwent an operation in the early hours of 3 June 2005. Throughout the following day, it was alleged that doctors at the North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust failed to diagnose Mr Appleby's developing Compartment Syndrome, which was causing a damaging build-up of pressure in his leg. The diagnosis was not made until early that evening when he was rushed to theatre for an emergency operation to release the pressure in the leg.
As a result of the alleged sub-standard treatment that Mr Appleby received from Northern Devon Healthcare Trust he suffered four years of extreme pain and required over 15 surgical procedures, before finally undergoing a below knee amputation of his right leg in August 2009.
Jonathan Zimmern took over Mr Appleby's case from another firm of Solicitors. He instructed an orthopaedic expert to consider the case and argued on Mr Appleby's behalf that, but for the doctor's delay in diagnosing and subsequently treating the Compartment Syndrome, Mr Appleby would have required far fewer operations, he would have kept his leg and would have made a good recovery.
North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust argued that (i) Mr Appleby's claim should be struck out because it constituted a second claim for the same damage which he had already been compensated for following the road traffic accident; (ii) there was no negligent delay in treating the Compartment Syndrome and (iii) he would have chosen to have an amputation in any event because of the severity of the injuries caused by the original accident.
Jonathan successfully opposed the application to strike out the claim at a hearing in July 2012. There then followed significant further argument in relation to the orthopaedic evidence, before he was able to negotiate an out of court settlement for a substantial sum on 7 April 2014, just one week before a court trial was listed to begin.
The loss of nearly a decade
Mr Appleby commented on the loss of nearly a decade of his life due to repeat operations, therapy and a prolonged legal battle.
“That was nine years where other men would be progressing their careers, getting married and having children, but I haven’t been able to do that,” he said.
“Mr Appleby's amputation had a devastating effect on his life and his career and I hope that the compensation he has received will help him to get the prosthetics and rehabilitation he needs to move forward.”