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A woman who went into hospital for what should have been routine hip replacement surgery – but emerged with serious and disabling nerve damage – has won the right to substantial compensation from the NHS.
Following the operation, the woman's left leg felt numb and she could not move her left foot. X-rays revealed that a large 'blob' of fixative cement had been left in place by the surgeon. The ravioli-shaped blob, which measured about two by two-and-a-half centimetres, was removed during a second operation, but not before permanent damage had been caused to her sciatic nerve.
The NHS trust which ran the hospital argued that the surgeon's performance of the first operation had not fallen below acceptable standards. However, the woman's claim was upheld by a judge.
In dismissing the trust's challenge to that decision, the Court of Appeal rejected arguments that the judge had wrongly shifted the burden of proof before reaching a perverse conclusion on the evidence. The amount of the woman's damages has yet to be assessed.