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Compartment Syndrome Claims

Compartment Syndrome Compensation

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Claiming for a compartment syndrome

Compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs after sustaining an injury and it generally develops within 48 hours of the injury occurring. It most frequently affects the arms and legs, but areas such as the buttocks and abdomen may also be affected.

Compartment syndrome occurs when an injury causes blood flow to a certain part of the body to become restricted. This in turn leads to an excessive build-up of pressure in the affected area. Symptoms are varied, but commonly include excessive pain, coldness and a burning or tingling sensation. Alternatively, there may be reduced sensation, restricted movement or even paralysis of the area as the condition worsens.

If compartment syndrome is diagnosed promptly enough, then effective treatment will alleviate the pressure before any major damage takes place. Otherwise, complications may arise which ultimately lead to the death of affected muscle tissues (necrosis). This can have devastating consequences, such as infection, scarring and permanent damage to nerves and muscles. In extreme cases, compartment syndrome can result in the complete loss of limbs and may even prove fatal.

Delayed diagnosis of compartment syndrome is an example of serious medical malpractice. If you have suffered due to this kind of clinical negligence, you may have a claim. With a wealth of specialist knowledge in medical negligence cases, we can provide advice, support and guidance throughout the process. There are no upfront fees or payments, so talk to Your Legal Friend today for more information.

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Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of medical malpractice cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a medical negligence case.

Our Stroke expert team. We deal with medical negligence claims arising from Stroke.

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our medical negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value medical negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation.  Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

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For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors, call us now on 0151 550 5228(calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

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10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

What is compartment syndrome?

Compartment Syndrome occurs when the nerves and blood vessels are compressed within a ‘muscle compartment’ and the increased pressure leads to a restricted blood flow.

This means the condition can occur in the hand, forearm, upper arm, buttocks, leg, foot and the abdomen although most commonly the syndrome occurs in the arm or leg.

Compartment Syndrome can also be caused by:

  • External compression – i.e. overly tight bandages or plaster cast.
  • Internal compression – from internal bleeding.

There are also two main types of compartment syndrome:

Acute compartment syndrome  - following a severe injury, such as a car crash, the trauma causes an extreme rise of pressure in the compartment, resulting in insufficient blood supply to muscles and nerves.  Emergency surgery will be needed as the lack of blood supply can lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage, and the loss of limb function.

Chronic compartment syndrome - is an exercise-induced condition in which muscle pressure rises to extreme levels during exercise, reducing blood flow and depriving oxygen to the muscles. 

Read less

What are the causes of Compartment Syndrome

The most typical injury that can lead to compartment syndrome is a fracture of the arm or leg. Fortunately, the condition does not occur after every injury to an arm or leg but you are at a greater risk if your bone is broken:

  • In your arm below the elbow, or
  • Your leg below the knee.

The risk can increase even further if an operation is needed to fix the broken bone or an infection develops in the affected limb.

 Other causes include:

  • Crush or penetration injury.
  • Bleeding from an injured blood vessel.
  • Burns.
  • Plaster casts that are fitted too tightly.
  • Intravenous medicines (via a drip), which leak inside the arm around the vein.
  • Vigorous exercise or repetitive activity.
  • Snake bites.
Read less

What are the symptoms of compartment syndrome?

Pain – is the  main symptom, which usually occurs even at rest and may also intensify during movement.

While pain is likely to be felt after any injury, in compartment syndrome the pain is:

  • Often very severe indeed.
  • Out of proportion to the injury.
  • Unable to be relieved by pain killer, and
  • Usually increases despite immobilisation.

Other symptoms in the affected limb may include:

  • Reduced sensation.
  • Paralysis, numbness or tingling.
  • Paleness of skin.
  • Feeling cold, tense or hard.
  • Weak and reduced in strength.
Read less

How is compartment syndrome diagnosed?

A correct diagnosis can present a difficulty in each case as individual clinical symptoms, which are known to be indicators of compartment syndrome, can be both unresponsive and unreliable.

Symptoms such as paralysis, which provide a definite indication, often arrive when the condition has progressed to a late stage when surgery will not lead to a full recovery.

Your doctor may suspect the condition if you have had a recent injury to one of your limbs and present the typical symptoms.

Compartment Pressure Monitoring - A specialist may also be needed to measure the pressure within the affected compartment using a special needle or an MRI scan.

Read less

What is the treatment for compartment syndrome?

The aim of the treatment is to relieve the pressure within the compartment surrounding the muscles. An operation called a ‘fasciotomy’ opens up the skin of the compartment and pressure is relieved.

The incision is usually left open to prevent the pressure building up again and closed using stitches some days later or left to heal by itself.

What are the risks of delayed diagnosis/treatment?

It is crucial that prompt diagnosis and treatment takes place as early as possible. Permanent nerve injury and loss of muscle function may occur after only 12-24 hours of acute compression when the injured person is unconscious or heavily sedated, and cannot complain of pain.

Possible complications of compartment syndrome include:

  • Permanent nerve damage.
  • Permanent muscle damage and reduced function of the affected limb.
  • Permanent scarring to the limb caused by the fasciotomy procedure.
  • Loss of the affected limb.
  • Infection.
  • Kidney failure due to chemicals released by the dying muscle, which can damage the kidneys.
  • Death, in rare cases.
Read less

What are the chances of success in a negligence claim?

Compensation claims for clinical negligence are more likely to succeed in compartment syndrome cases involving:

  • Fracture of the tibia bone (in the lower leg).
  • Anterior compartment (of the lower leg) affected.
  • Deep Posterior Compartment - further compartments of the lower leg  affected.
  • Three clinical symptoms apparent at an early stage.
  • Compartment Pressure Monitoring not undertaken.
  • Claimant aged between 16-35.
  • Claimant a child or over age 35 (especially if fracture of the tibia).
  • Claimant does not report pain or other symptoms until a late stage (e.g. where patient is initially unconscious).

Compartment Syndrome occurs when the nerves and blood vessels are compressed within a ‘muscle compartment’ and the increased pressure leads to a restricted blood flow.

This means the condition can occur in the hand, forearm, upper arm, buttocks, leg, foot and the abdomen although most commonly the syndrome occurs in the arm or leg.

Compartment Syndrome can also be caused by:

  • External compression – i.e. overly tight bandages or plaster cast.
  • Internal compression – from internal bleeding.

There are also two main types of compartment syndrome:

Acute compartment syndrome  - following a severe injury, such as a car crash, the trauma causes an extreme rise of pressure in the compartment, resulting in insufficient blood supply to muscles and nerves.  Emergency surgery will be needed as the lack of blood supply can lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage, and the loss of limb function.

Chronic compartment syndrome - is an exercise-induced condition in which muscle pressure rises to extreme levels during exercise, reducing blood flow and depriving oxygen to the muscles. 

Read less

The most typical injury that can lead to compartment syndrome is a fracture of the arm or leg. Fortunately, the condition does not occur after every injury to an arm or leg but you are at a greater risk if your bone is broken:

  • In your arm below the elbow, or
  • Your leg below the knee.

The risk can increase even further if an operation is needed to fix the broken bone or an infection develops in the affected limb.

 Other causes include:

  • Crush or penetration injury.
  • Bleeding from an injured blood vessel.
  • Burns.
  • Plaster casts that are fitted too tightly.
  • Intravenous medicines (via a drip), which leak inside the arm around the vein.
  • Vigorous exercise or repetitive activity.
  • Snake bites.
Read less

Pain – is the  main symptom, which usually occurs even at rest and may also intensify during movement.

While pain is likely to be felt after any injury, in compartment syndrome the pain is:

  • Often very severe indeed.
  • Out of proportion to the injury.
  • Unable to be relieved by pain killer, and
  • Usually increases despite immobilisation.

Other symptoms in the affected limb may include:

  • Reduced sensation.
  • Paralysis, numbness or tingling.
  • Paleness of skin.
  • Feeling cold, tense or hard.
  • Weak and reduced in strength.
Read less

A correct diagnosis can present a difficulty in each case as individual clinical symptoms, which are known to be indicators of compartment syndrome, can be both unresponsive and unreliable.

Symptoms such as paralysis, which provide a definite indication, often arrive when the condition has progressed to a late stage when surgery will not lead to a full recovery.

Your doctor may suspect the condition if you have had a recent injury to one of your limbs and present the typical symptoms.

Compartment Pressure Monitoring - A specialist may also be needed to measure the pressure within the affected compartment using a special needle or an MRI scan.

Read less

The aim of the treatment is to relieve the pressure within the compartment surrounding the muscles. An operation called a ‘fasciotomy’ opens up the skin of the compartment and pressure is relieved.

The incision is usually left open to prevent the pressure building up again and closed using stitches some days later or left to heal by itself.

It is crucial that prompt diagnosis and treatment takes place as early as possible. Permanent nerve injury and loss of muscle function may occur after only 12-24 hours of acute compression when the injured person is unconscious or heavily sedated, and cannot complain of pain.

Possible complications of compartment syndrome include:

  • Permanent nerve damage.
  • Permanent muscle damage and reduced function of the affected limb.
  • Permanent scarring to the limb caused by the fasciotomy procedure.
  • Loss of the affected limb.
  • Infection.
  • Kidney failure due to chemicals released by the dying muscle, which can damage the kidneys.
  • Death, in rare cases.
Read less

Compensation claims for clinical negligence are more likely to succeed in compartment syndrome cases involving:

  • Fracture of the tibia bone (in the lower leg).
  • Anterior compartment (of the lower leg) affected.
  • Deep Posterior Compartment - further compartments of the lower leg  affected.
  • Three clinical symptoms apparent at an early stage.
  • Compartment Pressure Monitoring not undertaken.
  • Claimant aged between 16-35.
  • Claimant a child or over age 35 (especially if fracture of the tibia).
  • Claimant does not report pain or other symptoms until a late stage (e.g. where patient is initially unconscious).