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British Eventing rider receives five-figure sum from York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after negligent surgery on her leg fracture

An eventing rider who was thrown from a horse experienced negligent medical care and inadequate surgery at Scarborough hospital, leaving her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and requiring further surgery to correct the surgical mistakes.

Posted on 06 October 2022

The patient, who we have called Laura, has received a settlement and an apology. She was brought by ambulance to Scarborough Hospital after being thrown from a horse at her stables in North Yorkshire, on 8 February 2018. X-rays were taken which revealed a fracture of her left tibia and fibula, which extended into the ankle joint. Such fractures require a CT scan to understand the full extent and pattern of the injury. Despite this, the surgeons did not request a CT scan prior to her operation.

A successful recovery from the fracture was essential to Laura’s career and so she asked for the opportunity to obtain a second opinion on multiple occasions before her operation, to ensure that the surgery was going to give her the best chance to return to her sport at the highest possible level. These requests were dismissed and Laura was reassured that this was unnecessary because the operation would be the same anywhere and the Trust dealt with injuries like hers routinely.

Laura underwent ORIF surgery (open reduction and internal fixation) to fix her fracture the following day. This operation was not performed to an adequate standard. The CT scan taken after the operation showed that the position of the fixation was unacceptable, and that she required further surgical intervention to correct the surgical mistakes.

Laura was distraught that the initial surgery had been poorly performed and was concerned about what this would mean long term for her career. Due to the loss of trust and confidence in the care she was receiving, Laura transferred to the private care of a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who had previously operated successfully on a family member. She had to wait eight days, in pain, for the swelling of her leg to go down before she could undergo further surgery.

Following her experiences at Scarborough Hospital, Laura has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She continues to suffer from symptoms which cause her substantial anxiety when she or a family member need to access healthcare.

Laura instructed Leigh Day medical negligence solicitor, Julie Struthers, who identified the pre-operative failings in Laura’s care and wrote to the hospital Trust to set out the claim against them.

The Trust admitted the treatment provided to Laura was below the standard to be expected, and that with appropriate care she would not have required revision surgery. The Trust apologised to Laura for the shortcomings in the care they provided.

The Trust and Laura were able to reach a five-figure settlement of damages.

Julie Struthers said:

“The impact of a loss of trust in medical professionals should not be underestimated. It is essential that clinicians build trust with their patients and respond to sensible requests for a second opinion. The negligent failure to obtain a CT scan, the poor surgical technique, and the failure to respond to Laura’s request for a second opinion all contributed to the poor outcome for her.

“I am pleased to have been able to obtain damages for Laura to allow her to access the treatment she needs going forward, and to replace the money she had to spend to access proper care.”

Leigh Day worked with Louise Green of Kings Chambers.

Julie Struthers
Amputation Birth injury Brain injury Cerebral palsy Spinal injury

Julie Struthers

Julie Struthers is a senior associate solicitor in the medical negligence department.

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