Members of Penningtons Manches Cooper’s clinical negligence team have successfully entered judgment in their client’s favour against Spire Healthcare Limited after an orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Aaron (Biing Yann) Ng, performed unnecessary knee surgery.
The claimant presented to Mr Ng complaining of a short history of left knee pain. An x-ray demonstrated mild degenerative changes. It was noted that the claimant had an internal fixation screw in the tibia (some 6-7cm away from the knee joint) from a left tibial tuberosity transfer performed when she was a teenager.
Spire Healthcare Ltd has accepted that Mr Ng negligently advised the claimant that she could not undergo an MRI scan because of the tibial fixation screw which had been inserted nearly 30 years earlier. The claimant was therefore advised to proceed straight to arthroscopy and was not offered alternative treatment options or conservative management such as physiotherapy or injections. Mr Ng also negligently advised the claimant that she should have the left tibial screw removed even though it was not causing her any pain or discomfort.
It was the claimant’s case that the tibial screw was sufficiently far away from the knee joint to allow for satisfactory MRI imaging and that at the material time, the tibial screw was not causing or contributing to her left knee pain.
The defendant has admitted that alternative treatment should have been offered to the claimant before she was advised to undergo a diagnostic arthroscopy and removal of the tibial screw. It also accepts that there was no clinical need to remove the tibial screw and to do so amounted to a breach of duty.
Following the unnecessary surgery, there was a failure to recognise that the claimant’s wound at the tibial nail removal site had become infected. As a result, she required multiple debridement surgeries leaving a significant defect in her leg. A full thickness skin graft was needed and the claimant has been left with ongoing knee pain, substantially reduced range of movement and a significant cosmetic defect. It is likely that she will face early total knee replacement surgery as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
The defendant has accepted that but for Mr Ng’s negligent advice and unnecessary surgery, the claimant would have avoided the post-operative wound infection as well as the subsequent remedial debridement and plastic surgeries.
The issues between the parties are now limited to quantum and settlement negotiations remain ongoing.