Aspiring police officer receives £120,000 following negligent treatment of a football injury
16th May, 2024
Case Studies

Written by

Sophie McGarry - Solicitor Apprentice

The Incident 

On 19th July 2017, our client (at the age of 15), sustained an injury to his right knee whilst playing football after which they attended the Accident and Emergency Department at the defendant Trust on 22nd July 2017 with pain in his right knee. He underwent an x-ray of his right knee, which revealed no fracture and was diagnosed with a musculoskeletal injury, given pain relief, had his knee straightened, and was placed in a cricket splint and was referred to the fracture clinic.  

 

On 24th July 2017, our client returned to the defendant’s Accident and Emergency Department due to suffering ongoing problems with his knee. He was then diagnosed with a ligament injury and a locked knee. The locked knee was released under gas and air and a cricket splint was applied, after which he was discharged. 

 

On 3rd August 2017, he was then reviewed by specialty registrar (SpR) in Orthopaedics who confirmed that all ligaments were stable and there was no bone injury present and was referred to physiotherapy. 

 

On 2nd October 2017, our client was reviewed at the defendant Trust by a Speciality Doctor in Orthopaedics who arranged an MRI scan, which took place on 10th November 2017. The scan revealed that there had been a complete separation from the meniscus and joint capsule and the lateral meniscus was flipped medially lying adjacent to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and, the meniscal fragment lay in the intercondylar notch (the area of the posteroinferior aspect of the distal femur between its condyles). 

 

It was then decided on 24th November 2017, that he would undergo an arthroscopy and meniscal repair. The benefit of the treatment was documented that our client would be getting the full range of movement back in his knee. He was then listed for surgery, on a routine basis, for the 10th of February 2018, however, this surgery was cancelled by the hospital and our client was not given a new date for surgery. 

 

On 20th August 2018 (over a year after the initial injury), our client underwent a right arthroscopy and partial lateral meniscectomy. However, he had a subtotal meniscectomy for a large tear which was irreparable. It was decided that he would require a meniscus allograft surgery.  

 

 

The Injuries 

As a result of the incident, out client suffered the following: 

  • A meniscus injury that was no longer repairable 
  • He underwent two avoidable arthroscopies in May and August 2017 and suffered avoidable increased pain, suffering and loss of amenity, avoidable swelling 
  • Restricted movement of the knee  
  • Avoidable instability of the knee resulting in locking and buckling 
  • Avoidable restricted mobility and function of the knee 
  • Avoidable need for future meniscal allograft surgery  
  • Avoidable psychiatric harm 

 

As well as this, our client’s lifestyle was also seriously affected and prior to the incident, he was a keen footballer and played for his county football team. As a result of the negligence, he was no longer able to play football and was no longer able to exercise as he did beforehand. This had a detrimental effect on his physical and mental health. Our client also gained weight due to the reduction in his physical activity which contributed to poor mental health and made him feel self-conscious. He also lost the enjoyment of playing football, including the social aspect of the sport.   

Prior to the negligence, he aspired to be a Police Officer and to join the police force and intended to complete the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship. He applied for a Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship and was successful in the initial stages of the application. However, he had to withdraw his application due to being unable to complete the physical assessment. After undergoing a sub-total meniscectomy and the requirement for meniscal allograft surgery, he would not be accepted by the police force.  Had he undergone an appropriate meniscal repair, on the balance of probabilities, he would have been accepted by the police force, had he passed all the required admission tests. 

 

 

The Case 

Following the suspected negligence, the client came to Patient Claim Line and Solicitor Apprentice Sophie McGarry took the case. 

 

Sophie and her team alleged the following in relation to clinical negligence: 

  • It was alleged and admitted that there was a failure to refer our client for an MRI scan sooner than October 2017 to investigate the injury.  
  • It was alleged and admitted that there was a failure to diagnose our client’s meniscus tear prior to November 2017.  
  • It was alleged and admitted that, upon diagnosing the meniscus tear, there was a failure to list our client for urgent arthroscopy and meniscal repair surgery, to be performed within two weeks at the latest. 
  • It was alleged and admitted that there was a failure to perform our client’s surgery in February 2018 as arranged and a failure to re-arrange the surgery within a timely manner.  
  • It was alleged and admitted that, following the cancellation of the February 2018 surgery, there was a failure to perform the surgery urgently to take place within two weeks at the latest. 

 

In relation to causation, it was alleged and admitted that there was a 13-month delay in our client undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus tear, by which point, the meniscus was no longer repairable. On the balance of probabilities, given our client’s young age and good health, the meniscus tear would have been repairable had he been operated on within two weeks of the tear being discovered in November 2017, or at any point prior to that. 

 

 

 The Outcome 

 

After liability was admitted by the defendant Trust, a settlement of £120,000 was agreed. At the time of settlement, our client was still awaiting a transplant of the meniscus. 

Reflecting on the case, Solicitor Apprentice Sophie McGarry stated: “I am very pleased to have achieved a great settlement for this young man, who sadly lost the opportunity to pursue his dream career of joining the police force and lost the ability to enjoy his passion of football. His resilience helped him to find an alternative career path which he enjoyed but he will always have that lost dream to carry with him. It was a pleasure to deal with this case for my lovely client and I wish him all the best for future”.  

 

Our client followed this up by saying: “Exceptional work from yourself over the years dealing with the case. I cannot thank you enough!” 

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