Case study: disability after spinal surgery errors

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Our Medical Negligence Solicitors issued a claim for compensation on behalf of a lady who was left disabled due to errors made during spinal surgery.

Surgery for spinal cord condition

Our client suffered from isthmic spondylolisthesis, a spinal cord condition where a small fracture causes one of the bones in the spine (vertebra) to slip down. It could be described as the opposite of a slipped disc, which is where the soft tissue between the vertebra slips out of place.

To treat this, our client underwent spinal fusion surgery involving a bone graft and the insertion of rods and screws. However, following the surgery and the expected recovery period, she continued to experience back pain. Her GP sent her for a CT scan.

The CT scan demonstrated some movement in the part of the spinal cord which had been operated on, specifically around two of the screws which had been inserted. The lady went into hospital for a second operation. However, after surgery had begun, it became clear that the type of implant used in the first operation had not been recorded correctly. The hospital therefore had to abandon the second operation as they didn’t have the right surgical instruments to remove the implant.

Two weeks later, a third operation took place. This revealed that the screws inserted in the first operation had come loose from the rod they had been attached to. The spinal fusion hadn’t worked and there was damage to a nerve root on the right side of the spine. Surgeons attempted a different kind of fusion surgery, involving a cage, rods and a bone graft. Only one scan was carried out during the surgery and this was done before any of the implants were inserted. No scan was conducted to confirm the position of the rods.

Pain post-operation

Following the operation, our client complained of pain in her right leg and hip, plus numbness and loss of flexibility. She was reassured that this would gradually resolve itself and she was discharged. No further scans took place.

Our client continued to experience agonising pain, numbness and heightened sensitivity. She was prescribed neurological medication. Finally, a new X-ray scan confirmed that the cage had shifted position and was sitting next to her spine. She had surgery to remove it.

The lady is now significantly disabled as a result of the various errors in her surgery and treatment. She will be unable to work for the rest of her life or enjoy the activities she used to.

Issuing the spinal injury claim

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors issued a claim for compensation on her behalf. The hospital trust initially admitted fault for the spinal injury, however, they then attempted to backtrack on this. We opposed this fiercely in court and were able to have their application dismissed.

The spinal surgery claim ultimately settled out of court for £1,400,000, thanks to the expert medical evidence we obtained and the detailed documents we prepared laying out all of our client’s past and future losses, including her lost earnings, pain, suffering and additional needs created by her disability. We hope this sum will help her as she rebuilds her life going forward.

Further information

To discuss a potential claim for a surgical error or spinal injury with one of our medical negligence solicitors, call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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