On 28 July 2012 our client George Scott (68) underwent elective total right hip replacement surgery at Medway Maritime Hospital. As part of Mr Scott’s pre-operative assessment, blood tests were taken and his haemoglobin (the protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen) was noted to be low indicating that he had anaemia.
A low haemoglobin result was also recorded on the anaesthetic assessment sheet at the time of the hip replacement surgery. Despite this, no action was taken to investigate the cause of his anaemia and the operation went ahead.
Post-operatively, Mr Scott continued to be in significant pain with his hip. Further blood tests showed persistent anaemia but again no action was taken to investigate the cause. He was advised that he would need to undergo revision surgery on his hip.
Blood tests were again taken which showed significant anaemia, but this wasn’t acted upon and he underwent the revision surgery on 24 January 2013. That revision procedure had to be abandoned without being completed as planned and Mr Scott had to have a five unit blood transfusion.
Mr Scott continued to experience significant pain in his hip but also developed acute pain in his right lower abdomen leading to an emergency admission to the same hospital. He was referred to a consultant gastrointestinal surgeon and in November 2013, he was diagnosed with cancer of the ileocecal valve, which is a type of colon cancer.
On 12 December 2013, Mr Scott had to undergo a right hemicolectomy, which is surgical removal of part of the right side of the colon and the last part of the small intestine.
Mr Scott continued to suffer with pain and problems mobilising as a result of his right hip. He turned to Shoosmiths for help and advice.
Pamela Westwood, the solicitor in the medical negligence team who handled Mr Scott’s case, successfully argued that, if the Trust had acted on Mr Scott’s low haemoglobin levels (which were indicative of anaemia) the initial hip replacement surgery of 28 July 2012 would have been postponed. Further tests would have been carried out into the cause of his anaemia, resulting in earlier diagnosis of his cancer and earlier surgery to remove part of his colon.
In terms of the hip replacement surgery, Shoosmiths obtained independent expert evidence and alleged that the primary hip replacement surgery was not carried out to a reasonable standard, as a result of which Mr Scott had a poor outcome and the need for revision surgery. Furthermore, had the anaemia been investigated it would have led to an earlier diagnosis of cancer and earlier treatment.
'If Mr Scott’s cancer had been diagnosed in 2012 it would have been at a less advanced stage. The defendant’s negligence led to a delay in diagnosis of Mr Scott’s cancer and has therefore impacted upon his five year survival rate and his life expectancy. Furthermore, had he undergone the hip replacement surgery when he was fit and well, he would have had a good outcome from the surgery.'
Medway NHS Foundation Trust admitted the failures to act on Mr Scott’s low anaemia before his hip replacement surgery and accepted that further investigations should have been undertaken which would have led to an earlier diagnosis of his cancer. It was also accepted that the cancer would have been less advanced with earlier diagnosis. Mr Scott’s claim was settled by Shoosmiths without the need to go to court with Mr Scott being awarded compensation of £100,000 from Medway NHS Foundation Trust.
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