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Misdiagnosis of baby’s hip condition causes lifelong problems - £850,000
Eleanor, now 16
Eleanor has difficulties walking and mobilising after a hip condition was not diagnosed by doctors who checked her shortly after her birth. This negligence will have a lasting impact on Eleanor and will mean she will require numerous operations on the hip over her lifetime, extra support and aids and equipment to enable her to live a full and independent life.
Eleanor was born by elective caesarean section at 37 weeks + 1 day gestation as she was in the breech position. An anatomy scan had been performed 11 days earlier and had confirmed that she was in the breech position and also confirmed that she had flexed hips and extended knees.
All appeared to be well at Eleanor’s six week routine check-up with her GP and she appeared to continue to develop normally until around 16 months when she began learning to walk. Her mother noticed that she was struggling with walking and frequently stumbled.
Delayed hip dysplasia diagnosis
Following a visit from the health visitor, Eleanor was seen by her GP and it was noted that she had an obvious dysplasia of the hip (this is when a hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone which allows the hip joint to become partially or completely dislocated). The dysplasia of the hip was confirmed by an x-ray and it was decided that Eleanor would need to undergo surgery.
Since her diagnosis Eleanor has undergone several operations under general anaesthetic, two of which were major open surgeries, to try and correct the hip joint. Eleanor continues to experience pain and difficulties with mobilising for prolonged periods and she walks with a limp. She remains under the observation of the orthopaedic department and may need further surgeries in future to try and correct the leg length discrepancy she has been left with.
Melissa Gardner, a partner specialising in serious injuries at JMW, commented:
All newborn babies should be screened for hip dysplasia so that lifelong injuries, such as Eleanor’s, can be avoided. The lack of adequate care Eleanor received has had a significant impact on her life. It’s vital that doctors know the signs and treatment is provided as soon as possible.
Eleanor’s parents were concerned that the hip dysplasia had not been picked at her newborn screening check when it would have been quite straightforward to treat. They were put in touch with JMW’s specialist medical negligence team and Eleanor’s case was taken on by Melissa Gardner, a partner specialising in serious injury cases. Melissa carried out a comprehensive investigation and built a strong case against the hospital trust responsible for the errors.
Had Eleanor been referred to the hip ultrasound screening clinic, and then orthopaedic services at six weeks of age, she would have undergone an ultrasound scan and a diagnosis of dysplasia would have been made. Eleanor would have been treated by being placed in a Pavlik Harness and on balance she would have had a 90 per cent chance of developing normally with no need for further intervention.
Melissa was successful in securing Eleanor an £850,000 compensation settlement. This will assist her in achieving the standard of living and life that she would have had but for the negligence she suffered.
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JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading lawyer, Eddie Jones.