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The consequences of negligence on the part of hospital staff can be dreadful, but a good solicitor can at least help to make them more bearable. In one case, a woman who endured years of needless agony after breaking her wrist during a football match has secured a compensation settlement of nearly £40,000.
The woman was playing in goal during the match when she fell on her left hand. Her fingers were bent backwards so far that she could feel the back of them touching her arm. She attended her local hospital but, after an examination by a doctor and an X-ray failed to identify the fracture, she was given a splint to wear and told that she would get better in a few weeks.
Almost a year passed, during which she was in constant pain, before the fracture was finally diagnosed by a doctor in the same hospital's accident and emergency department. Two operations, including one requiring a bone graft from her hip, proved unsuccessful and the bones in her wrist have still not properly united.
After taking legal advice, the woman commenced proceedings against the NHS trust which runs the hospital. Following a trial, the High Court found that the doctor who first saw her after the accident had fallen below a reasonable standard of care in failing to examine her competently. She had also not been told to return to the hospital if her condition failed to improve.
The amount of the woman's damages was agreed at £39,000.