Penningtons Manches has settled a claim for a client who was diagnosed with a hallux valgus deformity (a bunion on her big toe) and was advised to undergo a lapidus procedure to correct this. She underwent the recommended surgery at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Kent but, rather than resolving her problems, our client was left with significant pain and swelling. After the surgery her big toe was no longer touching the floor and was flaccid when walking. She was advised that she needed revision surgery which was later performed. Although this helped to ease the pain to some extent, functionally she was no better. It transpired that the surgery she underwent was the incorrect choice for her level of deformity.
The woman has been left with a nerve injury, her big toe is floppy and not touching the floor and she has developed right hip and knee pain due to her altered gait because of the flaccid big toe. The most distressing aspect for her is that she is now at a disadvantage on the open employment market, particularly as she is unable to return to her job as a hairdresser as she cannot stand for long periods of time.
The claim was robustly defended by the hospital trust well into court proceedings despite attempts to settle. Nevertheless, the legal team pressed on with the case and, upon request for clarification of the trust’s arguments and offers to settle being made, the defendant started to indicate that it would settle the claim and negotiations were successful.
Elise Bevan, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “Our client was advised that the best way forward was to have this procedure and that this should resolve her problems with her big toe. Instead, our expert evidence indicated that she underwent a procedure that was not suitable for her particular problem and she was left with far more severe problems post-operatively. While we are pleased with the settlement, the reality is that our relatively young client now has a permanent problem that will affect all aspects of her life and which should never have occurred”.