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Cyclist receives compensation after hospital admits failure to diagnose complex fracture

A keen cyclist who was forced to give up his passion for two years after medical staff at Royal Glamorgan Hospital in south Wales failed to diagnose a complex thumb fracture has been compensated by the health board.

Posted on 24 April 2024

Ross Evans suffered a complex thumb fracture in a cycling accident in August 2017, but was not diagnosed until October 2017.

Ross, who is in his early 40s, was cycling in the Bristol Grand Prix when he came off his bike and injured his left thumb, leaving him in pain and with reduced movement.

Ross attended A&E at Royal Glamorgan Hospital where an X-ray was taken, but Ross was told this showed no fracture and he was discharged.

Ross returned to A&E two weeks later and, because he was still symptomatic, was referred for an MRI scan. The MRI scan, carried out in late September, showed a complex fracture of the base of the left thumb known as a Bennett’s fracture.

Ross was seen in the fracture clinic in mid-October and told about the fracture but it was too late for him to undergo surgery, which would have given him the best chance of a good outcome.

Over the next two years, Ross continued to struggle with pain in his thumb which greatly affected his active lifestyle, stopped him from cycling, made it uncomfortable to ride his motorbike and affected his hobby of bouldering. He tried steroid injections and physiotherapy with limited success, and by the end of 2019, scans showed degenerative changes in the joint and a ganglion cyst at the base of the thumb.

Ross’ hand surgeon recommended a procedure called denervation, which Ross underwent in February 2020. The procedure was successful and has led to a significant improvement in Ross’ symptoms, but it is not a permanent solution and the benefit is expected to wear off after around seven years. Ross will eventually need an operation to replace the joint at the base of his thumb with an implant.

Ross instructed Leigh Day solicitor Rebecca Ridgeon to investigate a claim against the health board for the failure to identify the fracture when he attended A&E in late August. The health board admitted that the fracture was visible on the X-rays from that date and so it should have been diagnosed. If it had, the health board admitted that surgery would have led to Ross avoiding any further operations.

Ross’ five-figure settlement compensates him for his injuries, the cost of past and future private medical treatment, and assistance from his wife with certain tasks between 2017 and 2019, as well as some assistance in the future.

Ross said:

"I went from cycle racing at a high level in the UK, riding over 250km a week, to not being able to hold onto the handlebars of my bike due to the pain that it was causing me.  Whilst no financial settlement will replace the physical or mental impact that the misdiagnosis of my injury has had on me since it happened, or the future impact that it will have on me, I can’t thank Rebecca and the team at Leigh Day for the work they put into this case.  I always speak openly and have to say Rebecca and the team at Leigh Day have been fantastic during every step of this process.  From the very first call I had with Rebecca, she listened to my experience and concerns, most notably the point that I wanted to use this process to highlight the failures that occurred within the Health Board treatment process, to provide constructive critical feedback where errors occurred and to prevent anyone else having to undergo a misdiagnosis of this type of injury again. I was unsure whether to go down this route, but would recommend to anyone that if they feel they have been misdiagnosed, and negatively impacted because of it, reach out and contact Rebecca and the team at Leigh Day."

Rebecca Ridgeon said:

"Whilst it is good news that Ross’ denervation procedure was a success, the negligence had a substantial impact on his active lifestyle for more than two years after the accident and it is unfortunately likely to cause him further problems in the future. I am really pleased that the health board has now compensated Ross after the avoidable delay in treating his fracture."

Rebecca Ridgeon (1)
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Rebecca Ridgeon

Rebecca Ridgeon is an associate solicitor in the medical negligence department.

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