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Case Study

Paul McNeil secures £190,000 for University Hospital of Wales' failure to diagnose compartment syndrome

Martin instructed Paul McNeil, head of Medical Negligence at Fieldfisher. Paul secured an early admission of liability from the hospital, and after detailed investigations was able to secure an award of £190,000.

Martin was a keen sportsman and was pursuing his passion by studying Sports Science at University. On 21st November 2007, while playing rugby for his University, he suffered a displaced distal fibular fracture to his right ankle. He was admitted to the University Hospital of Wales, at Heath Park in Cardiff where he was advised he would require an operation to fix the fracture the following day.

Unfortunately he did not go in to theatre until the following evening, by which time he had developed an unusual and severe shooting pain in his right lower leg. During this period Martin was seen by a number of clinicians, who were advised of the level of pain he was experiencing and prescribed additional pain relief.

In the early hours of the 24th November Martin began to experience excruciating pain in his right shin, his screams alerted the nurse who immediately called for the doctor. The doctor removed the cast and performed a further examination on his leg.

The following morning, a locum consultant examined Martin's leg and immediately diagnosed him with compartment syndrome. He was sent for emergency surgery. The consultant apologised and admitted that the diagnosis had likely been overlooked for a the last few days.

Following the surgery, the wounds on Martin's leg were left open, and he was kept on an open ward. Two more days and 2 more operations passed, as doctors fought to save the anterior and lateral compartments in his lower leg. Martin's father, himself a doctor, arranged an immediate transfer to the Oxford Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre due to the lack of care he was receiving in the University Hospital of Wales.

The surgeon at the Oxford Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre found the anterior compartment to be significantly compromised. He was sent for further surgery where a complete clearance was undertaken and a skin graft taken from his thigh to close the wound. Martin was kept in for observation for 2 more days and was eventually discharged on 30th November, 2007, 9 days after his initial accident.

Martin now suffers from permanent soft tissue and neurological injuries to his right lower limb and from 'foot drop'. He is likely to require the assistance of an orthotic device for the rest of his life. The muscle around his shin is now deformed and withered in appearance.

Martin struggles with his mobility, with the likelihood that his symptoms are to deteriorate in the future, this is unlikely to improve. He is now unable to return to playing any of the numerous sporting activities in which he excelled in previously. As a result, both his physical and mental condition has deteriorated. Martin understandably suffers from low moods and a lack of self esteem.

Contact us

For further information about delayed diagnosis claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 020 7861 4019 or email


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