Defendant calls plastic toy 'sharp bladed weapon' in trial for young boy left deaf following surgery | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Defendant calls plastic toy 'sharp bladed weapon' in trial for young boy left deaf following surgery

Rebecca Drew successfully went to trial on behalf of her client, Anthony*, who claimed negligence against Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust following surgery to remove a tiny object from his ear, which resulted in permanent hearing loss in one ear.

The boy, who is protected by an anonymity order, is left with no hearing in his right ear, causing him serious problems at school and in daily life after doctors at Broomfield Hospital damaged the bones in his ear and disrupted the ossicles. He has ongoing battles with hearing aids and suffers dizziness and nausea. He has problems hearing and concentrating during school lessons, causing him to fall behind his peers in his education.

The boy was six years old when his mother took him to A&E after he inserted a tiny piece of plastic lego into his ear. After several attempts by an Ear, Nose and Throat paediatric specialist to manually remove the object with hook-like tools and suction, the boy was taken to surgery.

After three hours' surgery, the boy's parents were told that his eardrum and cochlea had been damaged and fluid had leaked from his inner ear. The surgeon attempted to patch up the eardrum with muscle from the side of the boy's face. When he was discharged home, Anthony was unable to go to school for several weeks because he felt sick and dizzy.

After numerous follow up appointments, time off school and struggles to find the right hearing aids, Anthony was referred to the Princess Alexandra Hospital where the consultant found Anthony had two holes in his eardrum and the malleus was in the wrong place. Further surgery at the Royal National Throat, Nurse and Ear Hospital unfortunately did not improve Anthony's condition.

Once instructed, Rebecca instructed experts and wrote a Letter of Claim to the Mid Essex Trust stating that excessive force used to pull out the object from Anthony's ear had disrupted the ossicles.

Because claimant and defendant experts failed to agree on the mechanism of injury (despite agreeing the damage occurred in theatre), the case proceeded to trial to accurately quantify Anthony's claim and his need for hearing aids for life. The Defendant attempted to rely on the tiny piece of plastic, which they referred to as a 'sharp bladed weapon', as causing the damage to the ossicles.

The Defendant's expert was criticised for continuing to argue various different techniques she thought were used, despite being told several times by Counsel and the Judge that this contradicted the evidence heard from the Defendant surgeon.

The Defendant had won a late application for split trial, meaning it became a liability trial only. Judgement was handed down this month in favour of the claimant. Rebecca will now obtain further evidence from an oncologist to consider Anthony's life expectancy since he underwent successful treatment for cancer in 2022 causing the Defendant to dispute his life expectancy.

For further information about surgery negligence claims or medical negligence claims, please call Rebecca Drew on 0330 460 6806 or email


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Surgery Negligence Claims