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Man died following total knee replacement revision surgery

A woman whose husband died aged 71 following revision knee replacement surgery has settled her claim against an NHS Hospitals Trust for £150,000.

Posted on 08 February 2024

The widow, who we have called Sarah, argued that the surgery her husband underwent was negligent as a tourniquet and mechanical calf compression were used despite guidance from a Consultant Vascular Surgeon that they should not be. The NHS Hospitals Trust denied liability for David’s death, arguing that the surgery could not have taken place without the use of a tourniquet, but agreed to pay compensation.
 
The patient, who we have called David, had suffered for several years with his right knee, and had initial surgery in 2014. It was unsuccessful and left David unable to walk fully or straighten his right leg. He remained in a lot of pain. David saw various orthopaedic surgeons and eventually decided to have further surgery at the NHS Hospitals Trust.
 
Ahead of the revision knee surgery, David had to have tests from a consultant vascular surgeon due to some of his other health problems. The vascular surgeon advised that the knee surgery could proceed, but only on the basis that a tourniquet and mechanical calf compression were not used during the operation. He wrote a letter to David’s treating orthopaedic surgeons to inform them of this.
 
David attended hospital on 14 October 2016 for his right knee replacement revision surgery, as planned.
 
However, despite the trust having received the letter from the vascular surgeon, both a tourniquet and mechanical calf compression were used during the procedure.
 
Following surgery David’s right foot was seen to be cold and blue and he was transferred urgently to the vascular team at a different hospital who found that David’s right femoral/popliteal artery was blocked.
 
David’s condition deteriorated and he suffered a heart attack. He never regained consciousness and died on 17 October 2016, after his family made the difficult decision to turn off his life support machine.
 
Sarah instructed Leigh Day medical negligence solicitor, Stephen Clarkson to bring a claim against the NHS Hospitals Trust.
 
The trust admitted several systemic failures associated with David’s surgery but denied liability for his death on the basis that the procedure would never have taken place without the use of a tourniquet, and therefore the outcome would have been the same. 
 
Stephen argued that had the failures not occurred, David would not have had the surgery which required the tourniquet or mechanical calf compression, and his death would have been avoided.
 
The settlement of £150,000 is intended to provide compensation for the trauma that David experienced before his death, as well as going some way to compensate the impact that David’s death has had on his family. 
 
Sarah said:
 
“This process is difficult. I had support and clear information from Leigh Day all through the time  it took to settle the claim. I was encouraged to not give up, or give in until the process was complete. The hospital have changed their policies as a result of this mistake, so I hope it won’t happen to anybody else. My thanks to Stephen Clarkson for his personal commitment to my case.”
 
Stephen Clarkson said:
 
“This tragic case demonstrates how important it is that hospitals have robust processes and procedures to minimise the risk of harm to each individual patient. 
 
“Good communication between colleagues is key to this. It also highlights the importance of patients being fully informed so that they can make decisions about their own treatment. If proper consent processes are in place the patient can decide what level of risk is acceptable in relation to any medical procedure they agree to have.”
 

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Stephen Clarkson
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Stephen Clarkson

Stephen Clarkson is a associate solicitor in the medical negligence department.

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