Michael sustained an injury to his penis during sexual activity with his girlfriend. A few hours later he realised it was bruised, swollen and bleeding. He was also in severe pain.
At the time Michael was too embarrassed to attend his GP so his girlfriend called NHS direct and spoke with a nurse over the phone. The nurse advised that if his condition did not improve, Michael should visit his GP by the end of the following day.
Still in pain, Michael attended his GP the following day. He was prescribed a course of antibiotics. Six days later, he returned to his GP, who noted that his condition had not improved. Later that day, Michael’s GP phoned and advised him to attend hospital immediately.
Michael went to the accident and emergency department at Guy’s Hospital and he was seen by the urology team. The urology team advised that Michael had a fractured penis but at this point it was too late to perform corrective surgery.
If Michael had attended the hospital earlier, corrective surgery would have limited the amount of scar tissue that formed at the injury site. However, given the passage of time, natural scar tissue had formed and therefore any corrective surgery would have no effect.
As a result of his injuries, Michael can no longer have penetrative sexual intercourse. He is unable to get a full erection without the use of drugs or a penile pump, neither of which he wants to use. He has suffered psychologically and required hospitalisation for self harming. His relationship with his girlfriend of eleven years has since broken down. He now shares custody of their two children.
Mark Bowman was instructed to pursue a claim for medical negligence. Michael’s GP admitted that he should have been sent to hospital at the first appointment. However, a report by a urologist (a specialist in urinary and reproductive organs) stated that surgery needed to have been performed within twelve hours to have reduced the injuries that Michael sustained. Even with prompt surgery, however, Michael would have been left with some impairment of function. This meant any claim against the GP would fail, as the 12 hour window of opportunity had already passed when Michael attended his GP.
A claim was therefore investigated against NHS Direct.
A report from a nursing advisor asserted that the NHS Direct nurse that spoke to Michael's girlfriend, should have recommended that Michael attend A&E immediately.
A letter of claim was served on NHS Direct who denied negligence.
Proceedings were issued against NHS Direct who subsequently admitted that Michael should have been referred immediately, but alleged that treatment would have been effective at any point within 48 hours of the injury being sustained, as opposed to 12 hours.
Following discussions with the Defendants, an offer of £40,000, made without an admission of liability, was accepted by Michael.
At the conclusion of the case Mark said: "This was a particularly nasty case. Michael has suffered injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life. NHS Direct are used by thousands of people every month. Unfortunately in this instance, the service provided to Michael was sub standard."
Michael says: "Thank you Mark. You have helped me enormously throughout what has been a very difficult time for me on a number of levels. Without your support I am not sure how I would have coped. Now that this is behind me I hope I can move on with the rest of my life."
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