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AB was injured in February 2012 after a negligent delay in diagnosing an infection to her spine following non-resolving lower back pain for a few weeks.
AB was a retired housewife living in her family home in Surrey. She was fully independent and had no real long-term health concerns. She and her husband had run their own business until retirement some years before this incident. They had lived a peaceful retirement spending long periods of time in Spain each year.
In January 2012, AB developed a serious spinal infection which led to the development of a spinal abscess. The mandatory action for this condition was an urgent whole spine MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis. This scan alone took over a week to be organised. Once a spinal abscess was then diagnosed, the recommended treatment was high dose intravenous antibiotics and emergency spinal surgery to clear the infection.
Unfortunately, due to the delays, the surgery was performed too late to be successful. Her spinal cord was compressed by the abscess for too long and it was not possible to save her neurological function to her limbs.
Multiple opportunities to act earlier had been missed. These all led to AB acquiring permanent neurological damage and an incomplete tetraplegia.
AB’s health after surgery
Initially AB was very sick after her infection and spinal surgery. She had been left developing this infection for almost 2 weeks before she was transferred to a neurosurgical centre for surgery.
After a period in ICU, prolonged confusion and sepsis, she awoke unable to stand or walk. This had a very detrimental effect on her mental health and initially AB was not interested in an investigation into her treatment. However, her husband and daughter were so angered by the treatment she had experienced that they instructed Stewarts to investigate. They were the driving force behind pursuing a claim due to their recognition that a successful claim would bring financial security for AB’s care needs. The husband had a Power of Attorney and provided instructions to Amy Fielding, a senior associate in our Clinical Negligence team.
Further surgery and rehabilitation
AB was transferred to the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Buckinghamshire on her family’s insistence. She then underwent further surgery to stabilise her spine. She commenced a package of intensive spinal rehabilitation. She went from being wheelchair reliant to being able to mobilise in a matter of months. She finally returned home to her family almost 10 months after her injury.
Fortunately, in the absence of funds, AB’s house had previously been partially adapted for her mother. She was therefore able to make use of these adaptations. Once home, through her determination and strength of character, her and her husband managed to cope throughout the remainder of the proceedings. As both were elderly, and as Mr B had longstanding cardiac problems, this was a testament to them both.
Following the second surgery, her recovery and her rehab, AB became incredibly driven to try and retain as much function as possible. She could only walk for a few minutes with a walker but she tried to make sure that she kept her function with very committed, self-directed physical exercise at home.
AB’s claim settled for £1.65 million less any recoverable benefits received throughout the proceedings. AB opted for a lump sum payment to make use of their damages, as soon as they could.
The settlement enabled the couple to fully adapt their house for AB’s needs and provide finance for her ongoing care and case management.
Testimonial from AB’s husband
“Stewarts have a real understanding of the issues we faced. They were very approachable and there wasn’t any of the ‘attitude’ you’d expect from lawyers. They are professional and achieved results that we are happy with. Amy was absolutely fantastic.
“My wife’s activity has slowed down significantly, but the settlement helps us to manage day to day life. We were able to get everything that was available in terms of specialist support and equipment. It has made life easier. We don’t have to worry about finances. We didn’t before but with the added costs of care and equipment, our finances are never going to be an issue.”
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Clinical Negligence pages.
Life beyond injury
We have teamed up with other clients who have catastrophic injuries to tell their stories of Life Beyond Injury. Please visit the Life Beyond Injury webpages here.
We hope that by sharing these stories, newly injured people can see that with the right support they too can overcome adversity to lead full and active lives.
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