Left with permanent pain
Amanda* had suffered from progressive hallux valgus, a foot deformity in which the first metatarsophalangeal joint is affected, in her left foot for a period of time. In 2011, Amanda was examined by her GP and it was noted that she had quite a marked deformity. She was struggling to wear any shoes apart from open shoes or sandals. The bunion on the side of her left foot was becoming painful and meant Amanda was struggling to walk. Her GP discussed the possibility of having the bunion surgically removed from her foot, which Amanda agreed to do.
She was later referred to her local hospital where she was seen by a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. Amanda advised him of the pain in her foot and how she struggled to walk on it. He advised her to undergo an x-ray and it was recorded in Amanda’s records that she had a bunion which was becoming painful.
The Consultant recommended Amanda undergo a first metatarsal osteotomy and a modified McBride procedure. Amanda trusted the advice of the doctor and agreed to undergo the procedure, which she was placed on a waiting list for.
Towards the end of 2011, Amanda signed a consent form for a modified left McBride’s procedure and a bunionectomy for the first metatarsal. She later that day underwent the surgery and was told afterwards the surgery had involved the lateral release of the joint, removal of the bunion, reefing of the medial soft tissues and a basal wedge osteotomy secured with two screws.
Following the surgery, Amanda noticed that her foot was extremely swollen and painful. She was reassured by the surgeon that this was normal after the procedure and there was nothing for her to worry about.
Some weeks after the surgery, Amanda noticed she had a lump on her foot and underwent an x-ray. The x-ray identified a piece of guide wire/drill broken on site of the osteotomy. The drill bit was noted to be buried within the bone. Amanda did not know there was a broken drill bit in her foot at the time and only realised later on.
Amanda later underwent another x-ray on her left foot and was then told an early callus was forming and she was referred to physiotherapy. She attended physiotherapy on two occasions before being discharged a while later.
Unfortunately, Amanda’s foot remained stiff and painful throughout the physiotherapy treatment and she was referred for further investigations. After being review again she was told to undergo another x-ray.
The x-ray identified swelling of the first metatarsal, just before the metatarsophalangeal joint. This was prominent and caused Amanda great difficulty walking and getting shoes on. The pain would often become worse if she was walking quickly or climbing stairs. Following the x-ray, she was referred back to the surgeon who had carried out the original operation.
The surgeon arranged for Amanda to undergo further surgery and in September 2012, she underwent a cheilectomy on her left foot. However, following this procedure she still had a considerable amount of pain and discomfort in her foot.
Around 6 months later, Amanda was reviewed at the hospital and by this time felt she wouldn’t want to undergo any further surgery. She was still experiencing pain and struggling to get her shoes to fit.
It was suggested to Amanda that she undergo another surgical procedure in order to improve her symptoms, and to conduct further examinations on her foot, and most importantly the metalwork inside her foot.
Amanda was reviewed again later in the year and it was again suggested she undergo a further procedure to remove the metal work and resolve her symptoms. At that time, Amanda felt she had no other options but to undergo the procedure, which then took place the following month. A basal osteotomy, left metatarsal and distal osteotomy was performed on Amanda’s foot.
Post-surgery, Amanda’s toe had good alignment and the range of movement was noted to be tight, but this was thought to be likely to improve with time and exercise. She was also referred for further physiotherapy treatment towards the end of the year.
After attending a further two physiotherapy treatment sessions, she was discharged a month later. Amanda was then referred to see another consultant as the pain in her left foot still hadn’t resolved. The consultant arranged for her to undergo another foot x-ray. Following the x-ray, the consultant discussed the possibility of the metalwork being removed but after having had numerous other surgeries, Amanda chose to leave things as they were at that stage.
A further x-ray was carried out which showed degenerative changes and that the metalwork was in situ.
Unfortunately, Amanda continues to suffer from stiffness and pain in her foot, which is constant. The pain has since become worse than it was and spreads across the whole top of her left foot, and down her big toe.
The pain in her foot means she often finds it difficult to find comfortable and fashionable footwear. She can’t wear high-heeled shoes and finds any form of low-cut footwear presses on the top of her foot and is too uncomfortable to wear. Being limited to often wearing ballet style shoes or boots, during winter, had left Amanda depressed and feeling restricted.
Amanda chose to contact Fletchers to look at bringing a medical negligence claim against the Trust. We investigated Amanda’s case and helped recover £100,000 in compensation for her.
Amanda’s case was handled by Fiona Swarbick, a senior solicitor within our medical negligence team, who was assisted by solicitor Sam Wignall. Fiona commented on Amanda’s case and said
Although we helped recover compensation for Amanda, she remains in ongoing pain and any amount of compensation will not make her foot recover. Her bunion removal surgery should have been routine however as a result of negligent treatment this necessitated further surgery and permanent symptoms. We’re glad liability for the negligence procedure was admitted by the Trust and hopefully Amanda’s compensation will aid in her looking forward to the future.
*Amanda’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
Fiona Swarbrick - Case Solicitor
Key case timeline
Amanda attended hospital for removal of a bunion to her left toe. The procedure carried out was not a procedure recommended for removal of bunions and caused further damage requiring further surgeries and scarring. Fusion surgery has been recommended however Amanda does not want to undergo this as cannot face the prospect of further surgery. She unfortunately remains in permanent and disabling pain.
We successfully settled Amanda's case for £100,000 and the hospital Trust admitted liability for the negligence procedure.
Amanda still remains in pain and can no longer do some of the things she enjoyed before the negligence. However we hope the compensation she has received will help her in looking forward to the future and hospital Trust will ensure this doesn't happen to anyone else.