Northern NSW women settles claim following laceration of ligament during knee replacement for $200,000

PUBLISHED 22 Jun 2017

A women from far northern NSW has recently resolved her claim at a Mediation against a Northern NSW hospital, following the laceration of tendon in her knee during a partial knee replacement.

After several years of increasing joint pain in this woman’s right knee and a conservative regime of treatment, she was eventually referred to an orthopaedic surgeon for management. Following some radiological investigations, it was determined that her right knee was sufficiently damaged to warrant a partial knee replacement.  Her operation was initially scheduled for six months following this diagnosis and was attempted using a minimally invasive approach.  During the operation, it appeared that a complication arose where her knee suddenly began to experience a great degree of instability.  No attempt was made by the hospital to determine the cause of such instability and the procedure was abandoned. The wound was closed and an intention was made to proceed with a more stabilising total knee replacement at a later date.

Two days later a revision knee replacement was carried out providing a total stabilised knee replacement. During this operation, it was recorded that the Plaintiff’s MCL ligament was the reason for the increased instability and the operation was later completed albeit with some difficulty.

Following the operation, the Plaintiff complained of increased pain and an extremely poor result in mobilisation. It was difficult for the Plaintiff to fully understand exactly of the cause of this poor result and why she required two surgeries. Consequently, she consulted with Gerard Malouf and Partners.

She had always suspected that this injury was occasioned during her operation. However, it was not until Mr Leslie Abboud, Senior Solicitor with over 30 years of experience, took carriage of the matter and began to investigate the cause that was established in the medical records that her ligament appeared to be ruptured or severed during her initial operation. Mr Abboud’s formed the view that her poor result and the cause of the subsequent surgery was likely this. In forming this view he briefed an expert barrister specialising in medical negligence and expert Professors of orthopaedic surgery to comment upon her care and management.

In obtaining these expert opinions, it was established that the Plaintiff’s MCL was inadvertently cut during an allegedly minimally invasive surgical approach that occurred during her first operation. It was determined that such a result was grossly below the expected standard of practice for an orthopaedic surgeon and for a hospital in general. Furthermore it was found that it was reasonable and standard clinical practice to protect the MCL with retractors during knee replacement surgery and that this should have been done.  Nonetheless, however, a comment was made that minimally invasive surgical techniques make such protection more difficult and thus increase the risk of these inadvertent and unacceptable injuries.

It was determined that had the ligament not been cut by the surgeons that the Plaintiff would not have required a significantly greater operation being a total knee replacement and would have  not suffered from the complications occurring during such an operation. Ultimately,  it was established that not only was such practice below an acceptable clinical standard, but it was determined that the failure to investigate the cause of the instability of the knee joint during the first operation amounted to a further negligent act which prevented any hope of this injury being resolved.

Armed with this evidence, Mr Abboud and his specialist medical negligence team, as well as an expert barrister pursued the matter progressively and obtained evidence as to the degree of damage suffered by our client. Seeking a rapid resolution of her claim, Mr Abboud arranged for a mediation to take place and promptly resolved her matter for around $200,000.00, much to the plaintiff’s satisfaction.

We hope that this will assist our client with moving on with her life and hopefully obtaining the necessary support and treatment she requires to live on with this unfortunate unacceptable injury. We hope that this result will encourage hospitals and surgeons to take significantly more care in treating patients  and recognise the importance of their role in insuring the best outcome for a patient, as it will ultimately permeate the activities of their life into the future .

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