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Case Study

True cost of faulty knee replacement is a future dogged by pain and inactivity

As the UK health regulator (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) reportedly prepares to issue a voluntary recall of a knee replacement implant manufactured by Zimmer Biomet, it's worth emphasising the catastrophic consequences for people facing the reality that repeat knee replacement surgery may simply not be viable,  and that patients can be left with significant long-term disabilities as a result of knee joint failure.

The problem with second or even third knee replacement surgery is that it is much more significant than the first operation since the previous implant must be removed and replaced with a larger device, which is then surrounded by damaged tissue. 

Studies show knee revision operations take twice as long and impose an increased risk of severe bleeding, infection, even death, and prolong patient recovery. There also comes a point where further surgery is not even offered because the chances of failure are too high. 

I recently settled a claim against a private surgeon working within the NHS waiting list initiative scheme at the Spire Parkway Hospital in Birmingham who negligently performed patello-femoral surgery on my then 48-year-old client Austen Llewellyn.

Austen, a surveyor, was a keen skier and golfer and underwent the surgery to be able to continue his active lifestyle, particularly playing sport with his son.

Spire Healthcare eventually admitted negligence, and accepted that but for the mal-alignment, he would have avoided the need for an early knee revision.

Austen was left in agony and was forced to undergo a full knee replacement, which has left him with pain and instability. This will likely wear out, with limited options for further surgery, and catastrophic consequences for his long-term mobility – for a man only now in his early 50s.

During our investigations, we established that in 2018, prior to Austen's surgery, concerns had been raised by the surgeon's NHS Trust, local commissioners and staff at the Spire Parkway Hospital about the surgeon's practice. Despite this, he was still permitted to operate on my client. Understandably, Austen was extremely angry that he was not told about any concerns before agreeing to his own surgery.

Failure to address concerns about treating surgeons has been a longstanding theme where doctors are treating unsupervised in private practice. The General Medical Council has now imposed interim conditions on the surgeon, Mr Habib Ur Rahman, while it investigates his fitness to practise.

Despite receiving the admission of liability from Spire more than 18 months ago, negotiations for damages for Austen's losses were protracted and difficult due to the attitude of the defendants and their complete lack of engagement.

The knee surgery negligence case finally settled earlier this year for a six-figure sum that will at least allow Austen to fund surgery, ensure his accommodation meets his need and that he has access to ongoing rehabilitation therapies to keep him as active for as long as possible. We all acknowledge however that no sum would be high enough to compensate someone for facing an uncertain future and the threat of enforced inactivity and immobility as they age.

Following settlement, Austen said:

"I found Fieldfisher through a google search engine. I choose this firm as their office was close to my house. It was the best decision I have made. Lindsay Holt was assigned to me and Lindsay has been a first class Solicitor. Her efficiency is second to none.

"Lindsay has an unbelievable memory and quotes comments and figures from previous documents from the top of her head, which amazes me. Lindsay has been very helpful and has guided me through the whole experience. She has explained every step of the way, sometimes twice for my benefit. She has been very patient with me and always answered my queries very quickly.

"If you are ever in my position I would 100% recommend Lindsay to look after your case."

Contact

For further information about private healthcare claims or surgery negligence claims, please call Lindsay Holt on 03304606789 or email lindsay.holt@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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