Emergency medicine is now a well-established field of medicine in its own right. It involves skills of prevention, diagnosis and management of acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spread of physical and behavioural disorders.
The A+E department, or accident and emergency, is often the first point of contact a patient will have with the NHS during a period of illness or after an injury. For this reason, each contact represents an opportunity to change the course of either an acute or chronic disease process or to treat trauma so as to avoid long-term effects. The increasing sophistication of medicine means that, with proper treatment, we can expect excellent outcomes. In medico-legal terms, a failure at this level can have far reaching consequences.
Our experience of A+E cases is wide and varied. Recent “failure to diagnose” cases involve:
- TB infection of the spine
- A case of very high blood sodium levels
- Meningococcal septicaemia
- Aortic aneurysm.
Sadly, correct treatment in each of these cases would have avoided serious injury or death.
Orthopaedics (bones and joints)
The most common problems that might lead to a successful orthopaedic claim would include the failure to diagnose, manage and treat a fracture. A particular complication of a fractured limb is a condition known as Compartment Syndrome - which is a surgical emergency that can lead to the death of tissue and limb loss. More complicated problems might involve the management of shoulder injuries, misdiagnosed slipped femoral epiphysis, poorly managed hip replacements or knee operations - all of which we have dealt with in the past.
Some orthopaedic surgeons have a spinal surgery specialism and sadly if such an operation were to have a poor outcome there is potential for a significant injury and therefore a valuable claim which would reflect the degree of disability and dependence.
Sometimes, the end result has been an amputation of a limb so that our clients become uses of prosthetic limbs. For a person who has enjoyed sports this loss will be devastating. However, modern prosthetics now offer active people a solution and we will ensure that our clients have had the best advice from rehabilitation and prosthetics specialists in coming to a valuation of their claims.