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Missed hip fracture led to full hip replacement

A 63 year old lady suffered prolonged pain and had to undergo a full hip replacement after a series of wrong diagnosis by her local hospital.

In July 2013, Mrs W accidentally stood on a ball in her living room, causing her to lose her balance and fall, injuring her right side.

Her husband took her straight to their local health centre to be checked over. There, the GP referred Mrs W to Broomfield Hospital, part of the Mid Essex NHS Trust, noting pain in her right leg and inability to weight bear.

After a 4-5 hour wait, Mrs W was taken into a triage room in a wheelchair. The attending consultant carried out an examination while she was sat in the chair, before sending her for an x-ray on her knee.

As requested, the x-ray department took images of her knee and lower leg. From these, the consultant diagnosed a sprained knee and prescribed painkillers and crutches. She was sent home with the advice to weight bear as much as possible and return in 10 days for a review.

When Mrs W went back for the follow-up appointment she saw a different consultant. She had a very short, 5-10 minute, examination while sitting in a chair and was again diagnosed with soft tissue injury to her knee. Although Mrs W complained of pain in her hip, no examination of the area was carried out.

As the pain continued, Mrs W ended up visiting her GP 3 times during August that year. Relying on the hospital diagnosis, the GP arranged for her crutches to be shortened and advised her to continue to weight bear and exercise – although the GP noted that it was painful for her to do this and she needed crutches to be able to walk.

Mrs W was referred for a course of physiotherapy and arrived for her first session on 1 October. However, the physiotherapist was concerned about the level of pain she was experiencing in her hip and sent her for x-rays. These showed a fracture to the neck of the femur which had now become displaced as a result of being encouraged to walk on the injured leg.

Revision surgery was no longer an option and Mrs W underwent a total hip replacement on 4 October.

Mrs W commented: “I became very depressed because of the pain and I didn’t feel that the consultants were listening to my concerns. My right leg is now shorter than my left one so I have to have shoe inserts, but the worst thing is I’ve been forced to take early retirement and I really enjoyed my job.”

Had an x-ray been taken on the first visit to A&E it would have shown an un-displaced fracture. Mrs W would then have been admitted to hospital and had surgery to fix the fracture, probably within 24 hours of the injury.

The outcome of this would have been favourable with a healed fracture and a retained hip joint. Later in life, she would have probably developed arthritic symptoms and required a total hip replacement.

However, as a result of a failure to diagnose the fracture a total hip replacement was required at a much earlier stage than it should have been.

Mrs W had to purchase grab rails, a new shower and seat, chair risers and also had the expense of lowering her doorstep; none of which would have been required otherwise.

On a financial level, Mrs W had travel expenses and lost out significantly on her earnings by taking early retirement.

Medical experts agreed that had internal fixation been carried out, the recovery period would have been between 6 and 12 months and Mrs W would have been able to return to her job.

Rachel Baker, associate solicitor, handled the claim on behalf of Mrs W and recovered £60,000 compensation in an out of court settlement.

Speaking at the conclusion of the claim, Mrs W said: “Thank you to everyone at Atherton Godfrey who were involved in my case against Mid Essex NHS Trust.
It’s been a very long six years of pain and suffering, but with my compensation I hope to get a stair lift and any aids I need.”

If you have suffered from medical negligence call and speak to our friendly team today – 01302 320621.

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