Case study: negligent removal of thumb splinter

Compensation: £5,000

Daniel, 30

JMW was able to secure £5,000 in compensation for a man who experienced prolonged complications after a failed splinter removal operation.

Daniel, 30, was chopping wood when a large splinter became lodged in his thumb. He presumed that the hospital would be able to extract it with a straightforward procedure; however, the surgeon failed to remove the splinter during the operation and stitched Daniel’s hand up with it still in place. The specialist solicitors at JMW secured £5,000 in compensation for the problems this caused him.

Splinter proved difficult to remove

After the splinter had entered “Daniel’s” thumb, he originally tried to remove it himself, without success. The splinter was visible underneath the skin of Daniel’s thumb, and he was unable to flex it so later that night he sought help at his local A&E.

The doctor who examined Daniel tried to remove the splinter under a local anesthetic, but could not do so. As such, Daniel was told that he would need to come back as an outpatient for an ultrasound to check the splinter’s exact position. Daniel was discharged with the splinter still in place - an uncomfortable situation that restricted the use of his thumb.

Unsuccessful surgery

A couple of days later, Daniel was seen at the hospital’s fracture clinic and X-rays of his thumb were taken. A doctor told him the X-rays did not reveal the splinter but confirmed that he could clearly feel it and that it would need to be removed surgically.

The next day, Daniel was admitted for the operation to remove the splinter under a general anaesthetic; however, when he came round, he was informed that the splinter had not been found. His thumb was bandaged and he was sent home with advice to return to hospital in a week’s time to be reviewed.

Daniel was very surprised that the surgeon had not been able to remove the splinter as it was very easy to feel under his skin; the thumb remained painful and difficult to use. Daniel underwent three reviews of his thumb over a period of more than four weeks before the revision surgery was finally performed, resulting in the splinter being removed easily and quickly in about five minutes.


Daniel was frustrated by the failure of the original surgeon to find and remove the splinter, as this had not only caused him to struggle to carry out his work duties for several weeks, but had also led to an unnecessary second operation under a general anaesthetic. Moreover, the scar from the first operation was much larger and more unsightly than the one from the second, and Daniel continues to feel self-conscious about it.

After contacting the medical negligence experts at JMW for advice, Daniel’s case was taken on by specialist solicitor Katie Nolan, who identified several failures by the surgeon who carried out the first operation. A compensation settlement of £5,000 was ultimately obtained for Daniel for the suffering these failures had caused him.

If you have also suffered due to negligent surgery, you could make a claim for compensation. Contact JMW today on 0800 054 6512, or fill in our contact form.

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