Mark Bowman was instructed by the family of Mrs Prentice to investigate a medical negligence claim against Worthing Hospital. On 23 March 2009 Mrs Prentice, aged 83 at the time, was taken to A&E, having suffered a fall at home the previous day. Her right arm was badly swollen and bruised. A diagnosis of a fractured right humerus was made and it was decided that she should be treated conservatively in the Department of Medicine for the Elderly.
Over the course of the next 14 days Mrs Prentice's arm had become extremely swollen and the bruising had spread to her chest, trunk and back. In addition to this, Mrs Prentice's haemoglobin level fell substantially. In spite of these symptoms there was a significant delay in arranging a review by a senior member of the orthopaedic surgery team or a member of the vascular surgery team, which delayed surgery (to 06 April 2009).
During the operation performed on 06 April 2009, Mrs Prentice suffered massive blood loss and was subsequently left with total paralysis and lack of sensation in her right arm, rendering it useless to her. It transpired that she had suffered a damaged artery at the time of her initial fall, which had gone undiagnosed at all times prior to the operation.
Expert evidence was obtained from an orthopaedic surgeon who confirmed that a referral should have been made to the vascular team by 30 March. Further evidence obtained from a vascular surgeon confirmed that with an appropriate referral, a diagnosis of an arterial injury would have been made pre-operatively, and an operation would have been performed by no later than 01 April 2009, which would have allowed Mrs Prentice to have regained some, if not all, function in her right arm.
The Defendant admitted to failing to act on the falling haemoglobin levels and not referring Mrs Prentice promptly to the vascular surgery team, but they did not make any admission as to causation, that is to say, that earlier referral would have made any difference. Further expert evidence was taken from a nursing care specialist who confirmed that Mrs Prentice would require substantial assistance in undergoing every day tasks such as cooking and cleaning, and that she would require a second carer to help with hoisting her to and from a bath.
In an attempt to secure a prompt settlement in the face of the Defendant not admitting causation, an offer of £140,000 was made to the Defendants, which they accepted. Such compensation will ensure that Mrs Prentice has adequate funds to provide her with professional care and support for the rest of her life as well as the aid and equipment she will require in order to live more comfortably.
At the end of the case Mrs Prentice's family said:
"We highly recommend Mark Bowman at Fieldfisher to support you in any case of pursuing a medical negligence claim. He has provided wise counsel, continual support and guidance and has always acted in a highly professional manner. We were particularly struck by his willingness to continually keep us in the communication loop and to engage with us at every step of the case."
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