Hospital fails to treat cyclist’s dislocated wrist correctly
27th May, 2021
News

A 34 year old man was left with permanent reduced range of movement and grip strength after a hospital failed to treat his dislocated wrist correctly.

Ryan Smithyman has been awarded £52,500 by University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust after they missed his dislocated wrist. It was finally operated on 11 weeks after his accident.

The incident

Ryan fell off his mountain bike in March 2019 and was taken to County Hospital in Stafford by ambulance. His right hand, wrist and left index finger were all X-rayed and it showed that he had a dislocation in his hand, a fracture to his wrist and a dislocation to a finger on his left hand and a possible fracture to his right small finger. Doctors strapped his fingers together and fitted a backslab to his arm and he was then discharged.

A few weeks later, he was reviewed and it was noted that he had symptoms of mild carpal tunnel syndrome to his left hand and he was referred to occupational therapy. The following month he was referred to a hand surgeon. Nerve conduction studies to assess his left median nerve were also requested as he reported his left thumb, index and middle finger felt numb and he was struggling to pick up small components at work because of this. The hand surgeon recognised that the emergency department as well as the fracture clinic had missed his wrist dislocation.

In June 2019, he underwent an operation to rectify the wrist dislocation, extended carpal tunnel decompression and surgery to release the tight tendons in his little finger.

The following month, he underwent removal of wires from his left wrist. When the stitches were removed it was noted that he had some degree of widening across one of the ligaments. He continued to work hard with the hand Occupational Therapists.

There was 11 weeks between the accident and the surgery during which time the dislocation significantly worsened. As a result, Ryan has had to leave his job as a fabricator and move into a different career.

The case

Ryan got in touch with Patient Claim Line to help him bring an action against University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust alleging that it was negligent in failing to treat the dislocated wrist when he first went to hospital and at the following appointments. It was alleged that this caused a period of left median nerve symptoms, the need for carpal tunnel decompression, additional scarring, reduced range of movement and grip strength and a significantly increased risk of the development of degenerative changes.

The outcome

The hospital admitted a breach of duty but denied it had caused additional scarring or a significantly increased risk of the development of degenerative changes. It also alleged that whilst it accepted it had caused some degree of worsened range of movement and grip strength, it did not accept the extent of that claimed and alleged that a wrist dislocation carries a poor outcome and that Ryan would have had a poor outcome in any event.

Amy Kirk, senior litigation executive, said: “This case involved protracted settlement negotiations with seven offers being made before a settlement was reached. We got the insurers to increase their original offer by £32,500. My client was initially tempted to accept their first offer which would have been against my advice. This goes to show how client trust in their representative is essential to getting the best outcome possible for them.”

Ryan said: “I am very grateful that Amy took on my case, I felt very safe in her hands. Amy is very easy to talk to and I trusted every movement and the advice she gave me; thank you!”

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