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She went to the Urgent Care Centre at her local hospital in Hounslow, West London, available to patients who require urgent medical attention and cannot be seen by their registered GP.
The NHS offers a mix of Walk-in Centres, Urgent Care Centres, Minor Injury Units and Urgent Treatment Centres, all with different levels of service dealing with non life-threatening injuries. By the end of 2019, these facilities will all be called Urgent Treatment Centres.
The service at Hounslow was described on the Trust’s website as being ‘staffed by experienced GPs and nurses, healthcare assistants and other healthcare practitioners’. After a long wait, our client was seen by an agency-employed nurse.
The nurse proceeded to superficially clean our client’s wounds using a small amount of saline cleaning solution and then closed the wounds using Steri-Strips. Our client recollects that it was she who had to ask the nurse to give her a tetanus injection before she was discharged. No antibiotics or other medication was prescribed.
At home, she continued to have pain and discomfort in her right leg. Around five days later her condition deteriorated. She was unable to put any weight on her leg and she was in excruciating pain. She telephoned NHS 111, who advised her to go to a local Walk-in Centre in Slough.
Our client arrived at a Walk-in Centre and was seen by a nurse who examined her wounds and noticed that they were oozing a foul-smelling discharge and were very sore. That nurse advised our client that her wounds were probably infected and referred her to the A&E Department at her local hospital.
At hospital, our client was diagnosed with extensive infection of her wounds and was given IV antibiotics. She was seen by a plastic surgeon who advised her that she would require two separate operations under general anesthetic to thoroughly clean and close her wounds.
She was kept in hospital for almost one week before being discharged with two courses of antibiotics. Our client was left with additional scarring to her leg caused by the infection and operations and, although she made a gradual recovery at home, she had to take time off work.
She sought legal advice and instructed Sumit Morjaria, a specialist solicitor in the medical negligence team at Shoosmiths, to pursue a claim against the hospital for the initial negligent treatment of her injuries.
Evidence to support the claim was obtained from a specialist expert nurse, a microbiologist and a plastic surgeon. These experts commented that our client’s penetrating bite wounds should have been cleaned adequately by the nurse at the Urgent Care Centre and should not have been closed with Steri-Strips because of the risk of infection. She should also have been prescribed antibiotics.
Liability was admitted in full by the hospital and the case was settled out of Court for a substantial five-figure amount which, in addition to compensation for the pain and suffering caused, included the costs of additional care provided by her family and treatment of her scars.