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Four Operations On Spine Leaves Retired Man Paralysed

11th June 2015

A third of a million pounds was awarded in medical negligence compensation to a 60 year old man who was left with partially paralysed limbs and torso following four operations.

A maintenance electrician, who had taken early retirement on health grounds, visited his GP soon afterwards complaining of a pain in his neck and upper arm and feeling ‘pins and needles’ in his left hand. Following referral and admission to his local general hospital the surgeon (defendant) performed the first two operations on the claimant.

The first procedure involved a spinal decompression to help relieve pressure on the spinal cord / nerve roots and a second operation to remove a damaged disc in the neck area of the spine. However, the relief provided was inadequate and the claimant still suffered significant pain.

Failed to warn the patient of paralysis risk

The surgeon then performed a third procedure to fuse the spine with the use of a special clamp, after which the claimant was left with an ‘incomplete tetraplegia’ - paralysis of all four limbs. A fourth operation to remove the clamp and an attempt to reverse the effects of the third operation was unsuccessful.

The court heard how the surgeon had failed to warn the patient of the significant risk of paralysis and tetraplegia before undergoing the third operation. There were further claims of negligence in failing to carry out necessary exploratory tests before proceeding including, an MRI scan, up to date X- rays and surgical procedures to explore the cervical spine further.

Liability was established against the defendant, and £350,000 compensation awarded, which includes previous and future loss of wages, all necessary services and out of pocket expenses, inclusive of interest per annum, and the provision of alternative accommodation.