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Case Study

Private spine surgeon fails to discuss risks of operation

Helen Thompson settled a claim on behalf of Mrs S who suffered an L4 nerve root injury following private spinal surgery performed by Martin Knight at the Weymouth Street Hospital, London. Mrs S was not advised fully about the risks of the operation and surgery was performed at a level of the spine which was not indicated.

Mrs S had a history of chronic low back pain and intermittent sciatica which she managed with physiotherapy and painkillers. When the sciatica became worse in 2013, she consulted Mr Knight who proposed a complicated endoscopic spinal procedure at multiple levels of the spine (of which Mrs S was unaware).

Immediately following the operation in September 2013, Mrs S suffered excruciating pain and severe weakness in her left leg and her left knee, preventing her from putting weight on the leg or walking.

Over a number of months, Mrs S was advised by Mr Knight that the symptoms were temporary and normal following surgery. He then performed a further operation on her spine in November 2013 (which was also alleged to be inappropriate). Nerve conduction studies were performed which indicated an L4 nerve injury which was confirmed by other doctors Mrs S consulted privately.

Mr Knight, however, refused to accept there was a nerve injury or that this had occurred during the first operation in September 2013. He instead suggested that the injury had resulted from Mrs S having a fall which had occurred when her left knee gave way.

Mrs S suffers with significant pain and weakness in her left leg and the left knee continues to give way which has caused her to have falls and sustain other injuries. She is only able to walk with a rollator and her mobility is severely impaired.

Liability was strongly and fully denied throughout the claim and Mr Knight continued to insist that there had been no nerve injury. This was despite the Defendant’s independent spinal surgery expert confirming there had been a nerve injury and agreeing with the Claimant’s independent expert that no spinal surgeons in the UK would have performed multi-level surgery in September 2013 as it was not indicated. The Defendant’s expert referred to Mr Knight as ‘an outlier’ in the spinal surgery community.

A settlement meeting proved unsuccessful. Eventually, and only once she made an application for Summary Judgment against the Defendant, Helen was able to negotiate a settlement of £550,000 for Mrs S.

Mrs S said: ‘I would like to express my gratitude to Helen Thompson, who has worked tirelessly on my case with the utmost professionalism. Her expert knowledge, support and guidance was outstanding.’

Contact us

For further information about surgery negligence claims and private hospital negligence claims, please call Helen Thompson on 020 7861 4852 or email


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