Client secures settlement for negligent shoulder injury following vaccine administration

Case Studies

Client secures settlement for negligent shoulder injury following vaccine administration

We recently settled a clinical negligence claim for our client who works as an investigative training officer for the police. She suffered what we alleged to be a negligent shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA), causing significant ongoing pain and functional restriction.

Our client attended a pharmacy of the defendant for her annual flu vaccination. The pharmacist administered the vaccine into what we alleged to have been the subacromial joint, instead of the deltoid muscle, causing her to suffer immediate and excruciating pain which did not settle with painkillers. The pain continued to be unbearable, and she was referred to a specialist shoulder surgeon who arranged an MRI scan.

The MRI showed marked subacromial bursitis (inflammation of the bursa within the shoulder joint). Our client was diagnosed with SIRVA. Localised injections of cortisone provided only temporary relief, and she continued to suffer significant pain and restricted function in her left shoulder.

Our client underwent an arthroscopic subacromial decompression to address the subacromial bursitis. She found both the procedure and the post-operative period of recovery extremely painful. Although her symptoms of pain, discomfort and a restricted range of movement have improved following the surgery, she continues to experience problems which negatively affect her daily life.

In particular, her shoulder injury continues to have a severe impact on her sleep, as she can no longer lie on her side. The resulting fatigue has caused her to reduce her working week to four days. She also struggles to perform activities around the house and garden which require her to perform lateral arm movements. As a keen gardener, she has found this particularly restrictive.

We investigated her case and obtained supportive evidence on liability from experts in pharmacy and orthopaedic surgery. They confirmed that there had been a breach of duty in siting the needle too high in our client’s shoulder, which had, more likely than not, caused subacromial bursitis, ongoing pain and restriction, and the need for shoulder surgery.

The defendant denied liability at the pre-action stage, and so we issued court proceedings. It was the defendant’s case that our client had an underlying vulnerability within the shoulder which was an alternative explanation for the ongoing pain and dysfunction. However, this did not account for the immediate pain on injection, and our expert orthopaedic surgeon remained supportive of the case. A negotiated settlement was finally obtained on behalf of our client, prior to the joint meeting of experts, avoiding the need to go to trial.

Our client comments: “Never before has an injury had such an impact on my life. I cannot thank you enough.”

If you have been affected by any of these issues and would like some professional advice, our specialist orthopaedic injury team is here to offer an informal discussion to let you know what your options are. Please call 0800 328 9545, email or complete our online assessment form.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP