Our client, Tomos, was only eight years old when he suffered a fracture on his left elbow after falling from his bike back in 2008. He attended the hospital where the doctors suggested he undergo surgery for a closed manipulation and a wire fixation of the left elbow fracture, and after a couple of days, they discharged him.
Missed swab results
Only a couple weeks after they discharged Tomos from hospital, he returned with complaints of severe pain to his elbow and pins and needles in his fingers, but following an x-ray, everything seemed to be normal. Though after the removal of his cast the doctors detected a small amount of dead tissue, they took a swab, which had shown a growth of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa (a type of bacteria/germ that causes infections). However, this swab result was not checked and doctors simply put a new cast on and sent him home again.
Tomos received a follow-up appointment at the Orthopaedic Clinic, with doctors advising him that the pins in his elbow would need to be removed in another week. Unfortunately, they had still not taken note of the previous swab, meaning that no action had been taken against the infection.
Antibiotics prescribed as infection persisted
They removed the pins in Tomos’ arm but he returned to the clinic with tenderness around his wound. He was examined and the wound was cleansed under anaesthesia. Unfortunately, there was still evidence of a growth of Pseudomonas, so the doctors prescribed him antibiotics and sent him home again.
Following the prescription of antibiotics, things seemed to settle down for Tomos. However, due to the nature of the infection, it remained dormant for a number of years. He later began experiencing pain when moving his elbow, so he was referred to A&E.
Infection spread to bone
Further medical investigations found that Tomos still had the infection deep in his bone. This was due to the failure to take steps to eradicate it prior to the removal of the pins years earlier. Tomos, therefore, required a number of washouts of his elbow joint as well as extended antibiotic therapy in an attempt to finally eradicate the infection. Despite this, Tomos has been left with a deformity and on-going pain in his elbow, because of the infection being allowed to develop and damage the bone over the years.
Long-lasting impacts following failure to act on infection
Tomos, who is now 20 years old, has been left with both physical and emotional scars from his ordeal. His left arm remains weak and painful. He has difficulty with heavier tasks as a result. The permanent deformity of his elbow makes him very self-conscious and reluctant to wear short-sleeved tops.
Given the restrictions his injury has had on his life, Tomos decided to talk to Pryers.
How we helped
We worked with our trusted medical professionals to demonstrate that the care he received back in 2008 was negligent. The doctors failed to consider the swab results and take steps to eradicate the infection at that time and before removal of the pins and before it had a chance to work its way in to the bone. A Consultant Microbiologist confirmed that microbiology would have recommended an antibiotic regime in 2008 which would have eradicated the Pseudomonas altogether and before it did any major damage. Instead, it was left dormant for years, causing further damage to tissue and bone.
The impact on Tomos has been severe, and instead of correctly treating the Pseudomonas, it has been ‘left dormant for years’, due to his young age and the degree of degenerative changes caused by the chronic infection, he will now need multiple elbow replacements in his lifetime.
Due to the long-term effects on Tomos’ mobility and restrictions on his position in the labour market Pryers managed to negotiate a settlement for £230,000.