Matthew had suffered from sciatic pain on his left leg caused by a left disc protrusion. He was admitted for surgery to remove the bulging disc.
The operation notes record the difficulty in identifying the correct level. Following the surgery Matthew complained of severe pain, tingling and an inability to flex his left foot.
In addition, Matthew had difficulty in urinating. The symptoms failed to improve and Matthew had constant pain and great difficulty in walking.
Paul McNeil was instructed to pursue an orthopaedic negligence claim on Matthew's behalf. On the basis of expert medical evidence we alleged that the operation was unnecessary (as Matthew had been leading a normal life), that the surgeon had operated at the wrong level and that his neurological deficit was due to a post-operative haematoma.
Liability was strenuously denied by the hospital and the action was fixed for trial for January 2002.
The case was heard over a period of six days and judgment was given in Matthew's favour. He was awarded more than £108,000 damages.
The Judge found that the surgeon had failed to detect by his own pre-operative MRI scan that Matthew's problem lay at the L5 nerve root level. During the operation the surgeon “took no proper steps to decompress the L5 nerve, leaving it alone when he ought to have performed a hemifacetomy to relieve compression or remove the disc material”. As a result of the operation, Matthew was left worse off.
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