Case Study: Delay in Diagnosing Hip Fracture Causes Suffering for Terminal Cancer Patient

Compensation: £18,500

Betty, 77

Betty lost her mobility and dignity in the final months of her life after hospital doctors failed to diagnose a fractured hip she sustained in a fall. Betty’s case was taken on by the specialist solicitors at JMW, however, she tragically died from cancer before her case concluded. Betty’s family continued the case against the hospital on her behalf and they were later awarded £18,500 in compensation.

Fall

Betty had been a fiercely independent and glamorous pensioner and even after her cancer diagnosis had continued to wear her favourite outfits and high heels. However Betty developed swollen legs due to the chemotherapy and radiotherapy she underwent.  She was making significant improvement with her mobility when she fell in her garden one morning.  Betty managed to call her son and because he lived a 25 minute drive away he arranged for an emergency doctor to attend.

In the end Betty’s son arrived before the doctor who took several hours to make his way to the house. When he did eventually arrive he was very concerned about Betty’s condition and advised that she needed to go to hospital and an ambulance was called.

The ambulance took a couple of hours to arrive and Betty eventually arrived at hospital at 6pm. After a wait in the hospital corridor Betty was moved to a cubicle in A&E and eventually a doctor came to examine her.

X-Ray

Betty was taken for an X-Ray at about 8pm. Despite the pain Betty was in she had not been offered any pain relief. She was kept in hospital that night and further X-Rays were taken. The next day she was told that she had sustained soft tissue damage in the fall and that this would take 12 weeks to heal. 

The doctor who assessed Betty arranged for some physiotherapy for her and a nurse who saw her was very insistent that she should get up and move about. However Betty found moving out of bed extremely painful but continued to persevere due to pressure from the nurses who said she would not get better if she did not. When the physiotherapist came to see Betty the exercises caused her a lot of pain however she tried her hardest to complete them.

A couple of days later Betty was discharged despite the fact that she was struggling to move around and lived on her own. Betty tried to manage as best as she could and was given help with bathing and household chores by family members however she continued to struggle due to pain that she was in. 

Persistent pain

Betty’s severe pain was still no better after 12 weeks so her daughter-in-law insisted that she go to see her doctor. It was around this time that Betty noticed that one of her legs was shorter than the other. 

Not long after this Betty had one of her six-monthly CT scans to check on her cancer. The cancer specialist she saw the next month said he was very perturbed by the persistent pain in her hip and sent her for further X-Rays. He told Betty he thought she may have more tissue damage than originally thought.

Broken hip

After the latest X-Ray Betty was sent to see an orthopaedic specialist, five months after she had had her fall. It was at this appointment that Betty was advised that her hip was in fact broken and this was the reason for her severe pain and for the leg being shorter than the other. By this point there was little that could be done to put things right. 

The impact on Betty’s life and the life of her family was catastrophic. Betty lost all of her independence and declined very rapidly both physically and emotionally. No one at the hospital could provide any answers as to why such an error had been made and the ordeal caused immense suffering for Betty in her final months. 

Settlement

Although nothing could make up for such incompetence and its devastating impact the specialist medical negligence team at JMW were able to secure Betty’s family £18,500 in compensation.  

Have you or a family member also suffered a delay in diagnosis of an injury?

If you or someone you know has suffered in a similar way, give us a call to discuss the situation and to see whether you could be entitled to compensation. Ring us today on 0800 054 6512, or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our friendly team will get in touch with you. 

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