Basic pre-operative mistakes led to life changing injuries

14 September 2018

Injuries due to failure to conduct pre-operative checks indicated by previous tests
basic mistakes before operation led to life changing injuries

A failure by medical staff to conduct the pre-operative checks and procedures that should have been put in place had the known results of blood tests and pre-operative assessments been taken into account had devastating consequences for our client.

Shoosmiths client Ms H had surgery at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) for the removal of a cancerous tumour on her hip.

The day before her surgery, she attended a pre-operative assessment where she had a blood test. It was found that she had low potassium levels, however there was a failure to record this important finding in her notes. She also had high blood pressure.

The next day, staff at the ROH failed to carry out the correct pre-operative procedures which would have identified Ms H’s low potassium levels in addition to her high blood pressure.

The protection that should have been provided by the pre-operative assessments was completely lost as a result of these two basic failings.

The operation therefore went ahead and lasted two hours. During the surgery, Ms H’s blood pressure dropped and her heart rate slowed significantly. After four minutes a normal heart rate had been restored. It was noted that the cause of this could have been either low potassium levels or high blood pressure.

Ms H spent 11 days in intensive care and, tragically, as a result of the negligence, suffered brain injury.

Her injury has had a devastating effect on her life, leaving her with mobility issues, changes in personality and memory loss. She now requires constant care, is unable to walk without assistance and cannot perform basic day-to-day activities.

Before the surgery, she used to walk her grandchildren to school and visit her family. Now she cannot leave her home unless she is in a wheelchair and no longer has a social life as her memory loss leaves her confused and distressed, particularly when meeting new people.

The consequences of the ROH’s actions have also had a drastic impact on her family too. Her daughter-in-law has become her main carer with additional care being provided by her sons and husband. 
As a result of his mother’s injury, and on her behalf, Ms H’s son sought assistance from Amy Greaves, a clinical negligence specialist with Shoosmiths, who issued the claim.

It was alleged, and accepted by the Trust, that had Ms H’s potassium level been correctly reported, her surgery would have been postponed and Ms H would not have suffered brain damage.

Commenting on the case, Amy said:

‘My client finds it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that her devastating injuries were the result of not one, but two very basic failures, however the settlement secured will enable Ms H to live in suitable accommodation and receive the specialist care she deserves’.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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