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Forklift truck driver unable to work after delay in diagnosis of scaphoid fracture

forklift truck driver delay diagnosis scaphoid fracture
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Our 30-year old client, a forklift truck driver in a busy warehouse, suffered an injury to his left wrist which resulted in a painful swelling at the base of his thumb. In fact, he had a displaced fracture of his scaphoid bone but an entirely avoidable delay in the diagnosis of what was a serious injury meant he was unable to return to work and support his family.

Inadequate diagnosis and treatment by A&E department

Immediately after his accident he went to the A&E Department of his local hospital in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. Following examination, he was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury and discharged home with painkillers. No x-rays were taken. Our client continued to suffer pain and swelling in his left wrist. A few days later, he went back to the same A&E Department, where he was reassured that he had nothing more than a bruised wrist. He was discharged without further treatment or a follow-up appointment. Once again, no x-rays were taken.

Referral to different hospital reveals true extent of injury

He returned to work but continued to suffer pain and discomfort in his left wrist, making his job as a forklift truck driver more difficult. After a few months of managing his injury as best he could, he went to see his GP, who referred him to a different hospital for further investigations. He was seen in the Orthopaedic Clinic, where following examination, an x-ray of his left wrist was finally taken. It was only then that our client learned that he had a displaced fracture of his scaphoid bone.

As a result, he underwent surgery to his left wrist, which involved taking a bone graft from part of his forearm (known as the distal radius) and fitting a titanium screw into his wrist and hand.

Unfortunately, the bone remained non-united and failed to heal. Our client was left in pain and discomfort with a severely restricted range of movement.

This had a devastating impact on our client and his family. He had always worked in skilled manual employment, but sadly, however, he lost his job as a forklift truck driver due to the extended periods of time he had to take off work as a result of the injury. There were also serious concerns that he might never be able to return to heavy manual work, causing him and his young family considerable financial strain and worry.

Turning to Shoosmiths for help and advice

Our client sought legal advice and instructed Sumit Morjaria, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor in the Birmingham medical negligence team at Shoosmiths, to pursue a claim against the hospital trust for failing to appropriately investigate, diagnose and treat the scaphoid fracture.

With the support of independent expert evidence, Shoosmiths made the case that, with appropriate treatment, our client’s scaphoid fracture would have healed within six-eight weeks with no ongoing symptoms, no restriction in movement or long-term function. Furthermore, he would have avoided the need for surgery altogether. Our expert was of the opinion that, without further surgery, the reduced movement and function of the wrist and the discomfort our client experienced would be permanent.

A claim was made on behalf of our client to include compensation for the pain and suffering caused, medical expenses relating to the wrist surgery, additional care and loss of earnings. Despite the clear evidence of negligence, only limited admissions of liability were made with a very low offer of settlement from the solicitors for the hospital.

Settlement secures the family’s future

Following a tough negotiation, a final settlement was agreed for a sum which was more than 10 times the amount of the initial offer made by the hospital. Our client and his family were very pleased with the outcome, commenting:

“There are no words that can truly detail how you have worked for [me] and the lasting effect that you have had on us. We truly appreciate all your hard work and the end result will have a lasting impact on our lives moving forward. The care and compassion that you showed us will leave a lasting memory. Thank you”.

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