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Man awarded 6-figure sum for delay and mistreatment of DVT

Man left with life-changing injuries following hospital negligence

Accident and emergency sign

31 August 2016

A young man, known only as Mr K to protect his identity, has settled his medical negligence claim for nearly £1m after he suffered a DVT which was misdiagnosed and mistreated by a hospital.

Mr K was represented by medical negligence solicitor Angharad Vaughan from law firm Leigh Day who said, “This avoidable episode has left my client at risk of amputation, and with permanent injury to his leg, which will worsen as he gets older and affects many aspects of his day-to-day life.”

Mr K suffered an injury to his left leg which persisted and spread down to his calf.  Five days later Mr K reported his symptoms to his GP who, after examining him, diagnosed a strained calf muscle and prescribed paracetamol.

Over the next few days Mr K began to experience excruciating pain and limited mobility.  His leg became very swollen, red and hot to the touch.

After speaking to his GP, Mr K went to the A&E department of his local hospital. He described to a doctor how he had injured his leg, and how the pain had started in his thigh, but spread to his calf when he moved. Mr K reported that he had been bed- bound for a number of days because of the pain.

The A&E doctor diagnosed an avulsion fracture, which happens when a fragment of bone tears away from the main mass of bone following trauma.  This diagnosis was confirmed by a consultant, although it later emerged that an underlying DVT was also suspected.

Mr K was sent for a pelvic x-ray and a d-dimer blood test, which is used to detect the presence of a blood clot.  Later examination of Mr K’s medical records showed that the d-dimer results were raised, but he was not told this.  He was sent for further x-rays and was admitted to an orthopaedic ward, where he was given morphine because the pain was so intense.

The following day an ultrasound scan revealed a tear to Mr K’s calf muscle and his leg was placed in a splint.

Mr K was discharged from hospital and was referred to a physiotherapist.  His leg remained red and swollen and extremely painful, with a thin red line over the back of his calf.

Over the following months Mr K attended numerous appointments with his GP, at the fracture clinic and for physiotherapy. His leg remained painful and he was unable to walk easily.

Eventually, four months after first injuring his leg Mr K, was sent for an ultrasound scan which showed a DVT. The person who carried out the procedure said that he was ‘astounded’ that the DVT had not been identified sooner.

Mr K was prescribed Clexane injections, and was referred to a DVT clinic for treatment, which meant having to wear compression stockings and take tablets to thin his blood.

Mr K approached Leigh Day to bring a claim for negligence against the hospital where he had been treated.  A number of experts were asked to give advice about his case including vascular, orthopaedic, radiology, haematology, and tissue viability experts.

Less than four weeks before the case was due to go to trial the hospital finally made an offer to settle the claim for nearly £1m.   
The money Mr K has received will help him deal with his health problems related to the undiagnosed DVT.  

These include permanent damage to nearly all the veins in his leg and post-thrombotic syndrome, which will continue to cause the pain, swelling and ulceration of his leg.  

Angharad Vaughan from the medical negligence team at Leigh Day said:

“My client has suffered permanent injury because the DVT from which he was suffering was left undiagnosed and untreated for over four months. This was completely avoidable. Had the A&E doctors taken account of his blood test results and ordered the correct scan, the DVT would have been diagnosed that same day.

“Mr K would have been able to start prompt treatment of the DVT, and the subsequent complications he has suffered would have been avoided.

“His time at university was severely affected because of his health problems. He is concerned that the symptoms he suffers will get worse as he gets older.

“He is anxious that his career prospects have been damaged by his injuries and is angry that the care he received in hospital has had such far reaching consequences.

“It was particularly distressing for Mr K that when he and his mother first complained to the hospital about his care they were fobbed off, and the hospital tried to blame the DVT on a flight to Greece. The duty of candour requires hospitals to be open and honest with patients when things have gone wrong. This did not happen: it was only when lawyers became involved that the hospital changed its tune and accepted that the care my client had received had been lacking.

“It is also disappointing that, having admitted liability for the delay in diagnosis and treatment of his DVT some years earlier, the hospital made no attempt to settle the claim for a reasonable sum until very shortly before the trial was due to start.”

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