Medical negligence at A&E results in unnecessary hip replacement surgery | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Medical negligence at A&E results in unnecessary hip replacement surgery

Jonathan Zimmern was instructed by Mr Watson who was a victim of orthopaedic negligence. Mr Watson suffered a left hipbone fracture dislocation following a fall on 20 April 2010.

Mr Watson lives in Missouri, America. During a trip to London in April 2010, he fell. He was taken to Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Accident and Emergency Department but discharged after being told that there was nothing seriously wrong and that it was likely that he had pulled a hamstring.

His return to America was delayed by the volcanic ash cloud and he remained stuck in his hotel room in severe pain. When he returned home he was referred to an Orthopaedic Surgeon who immediately recognised that something was wrong. Subsequent X-rays showed a hipbone fracture and so Mr Watson underwent urgent surgery; 14 days after the fall.

Unfortunately, the delayed diagnosis in recognising and treating the fracture resulted in degenerative changes consistent with post-traumatic arthritis. Mr Watson remained in significant discomfort and required a great deal of help and assistance to mobilise and live his life, including numerous sessions of very painful physiotherapy. The pain did not improve and Mr Watson eventually underwent a total hip replacement in July 2011.

Following his hip replacement, Mr Watson was confined to his home for several weeks before moving to a walker and then crutches. He can now walk (mostly) unassisted, but his hip is presently performing at about 75% of what it was prior to the fall and he remains in discomfort with restricted movement.

Mr Watson instructed medical negligence expert Jonathan Zimmern, who obtained reports from an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Jonathan argued that an x-ray should have been undertaken on Mr Watson's admission to hospital in April 2010 and that if one had been, it would have led to the fracture being diagnosed much sooner. If this had taken place, it is unlikely that Mr Watson would have required a hip replacement for at least 10-15 years.

Faced with this evidence, the Hospital Trust admitted liability. They accepted that the failure to undertake an x-ray on 20 April 2010 was a breach of their duty and had they listened to Mr Watson's complaints upon admission and performed proper tests then they would have avoided the need for a hip replacement.

Jonathan is now investigating the value of the claim for Mr Watson and with an aim to negotiate a settlement later in 2013.

At the end of the case Mr Watson had this to say:

I contacted Field Fisher after seeing their Web page, on line, having returned to my home in America after my injury and the lack of treatment I received at Saint Thomas Hospital in London. The firm assigned Jonathan Zimmern, a young associate at the time, to my case. When I first met with Jonathan I was not sure what to expect. I have been a lawyer in America for 35 years, having had my own practice and firm (now retired), but had never interacted with a UK law firm.

I can speak from experience that a client, who is also an attorney, is not always the easiest client to deal with. I assured Jonathan that I had no interest in learning English law and I advised him that I would not second guess his judgment and advice regarding the mechanics of my case. 

I found Jonathan to be extremely competent, always willing to listen to my concerns and addressing those concerns, and in explaining the English legal process and on keeping me advised of the movement of my matter. The very positive result reached in my case is a testament to his professional competence and his keen sense of professionalism and the abilities of the members of the Field Fisher firm.  If I were still practicing law, I would be proud to welcome Jonathan into my firm. Field Fisher is lucky to have such a competent, senior associate. Thank you all for a job well done.

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For further information about delayed diagnosis claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Jonathan Zimmern on 03304606779 or email


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