October 24, 2019

Client who lost use of his right thumb due to negligence secures settlement

T had been playing in a cricket match when the ball hit the end of his right thumb, causing it to swell immediately. He attended accident and emergency at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and had an x-ray. The x-ray showed he had a fracture of the bone at the tip of his thumb (the interphalangeal joint) and he was put in a splint. At a follow up appointment ten days later, another x-ray was taken and the same treatment of a splint was given.

Despite wearing the splint and resting his hand over two months, the pain was not subsiding and he still could not move his thumb properly, however the fracture clinic continued to advise him to move his thumb as much as he could and told him that it would improve.

T went to see his GP to get another opinion and his GP suggested a further x-ray be taken. This x-ray showed that the extent of his fracture was more severe and also that he had a dorsal dislocation at the top of the thumb. T was referred to a specialist who explained that due to the delay in diagnosis, they would not be able to reconstruct his thumb like they would have done if it had been spotted immediately after his injury. Instead, the only option was to fuse his thumb joint in an operation.

Why was this negligent?

On behalf of T, Royds Withy King argued that the fracture clinic had been negligent in failing to properly analyse the x-rays that were taken after his injury. Although an intra-articular facture (a fracture where the break crosses into the surface of the joint) could have been seen on the first x-rays that were taken, the doctors did not spot it and so the severity of the break was not recognised meaning T received the wrong management.

How did this affect T?

T’s working life was greatly affected as a result of the delay in diagnosis. T had been a sign maker, but because of his injury, the types of jobs that he could do at work had to be changed as a result of the loss of dexterity in his thumb and others he worked with, including his father, had to do extra work to cover what he could not do. T was limited in his movement in all areas of his life because he needed to wear a splint for 4 months after the incident.

In addition, after T had undergone his thumb fusion procedure he was required to take 6 weeks off of work, as the procedure rendered his thumb immobile whilst it recovered.

T has also had to change the way he plays sport, which he loved to do prior to his injury and the misdiagnosis. Now, when he plays cricket or five-a-side football then he is forced to wear a large brace in order for his hand to be protected. This can make both sports more difficult to play, as he feels he has naturally become more clumsy as a result. He has also had to stop boxing, another sport that he loved, because he can no longer make a fist with his right hand.

T now has much more limited movement in his hand, and since the fusion has lost most of the mobility within his right thumb. This meant he was limited in some aspects of his work, and it prevented him from participating in some of his preferred sports safely.

How did Royds Withy King help?

Royds Withy King was able to successfully obtain damages for T, which compensated him for his pain and suffering and the fact it stopped him from partaking in some of the sports he loved. It also included his loss of earnings and a sum to reflect the future impact the injury will have on his ability to work.

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