Advising with empathy and experience

Award for failure to monitor recalled hip joint.

Kim Daniells of the CNCI team at Harrowells has successfully concluded a litigated claim against a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in the North East of England arising from private medical care provided from 2011 to 2014. In 2005 the Claimant had received a type of Depuy hip implant which was subsequently subject to a recall notice in 2010. The Claimant, when advised of the recall, re-attended the surgeon's private clinic so that the condition of the hip joint could be monitored and surgical intervention planned (if required).


Preliminary investigations, including blood tests, xrays and an MRI scan were arranged. The Claimant was repeatedly reassured that all was well notwithstanding significantly elevated levels of cobalt and chromium which could be indicative of metallosis as well as radiological changes suggestive of ALVAL. The Claimant did not develop symptoms of discomfort from the hip joint until 2014. At that stage his GP arranged an NHS referral which resulted in a two-stage revision operation. The Claimant, who had a history of a severe hip injury, was left with significant, permanent hip instability.


Although the Depuy hip was the cause of the elevated cobalt and chromium levels and the subsequent damage to the hip musculature, it was not possible in this case to bring a product liability claim. Instead, the claim was made against the private surgeon for his failure to properly monitor the hip and recommend revision surgery. Liability and causation were consistently denied but supportive medical evidence was obtained from a leading expert in the field of Joint Replacement surgery. Court proceedings were issued and served before an offer in settlement of the claim was put forward by the Defendant’s representatives. The Claimant, who is in his 70’s, subsequently accepted an offer in excess of £30,000 plus legal costs, in settlement of the claim.


Speaking of the settlement, Kim Daniells said, "the treatment that forms the basis of this claim took place many years ago. By consistently denying liability, the Defendant left the Claimant no alternative but to commence Court proceedings and, as a consequence, incur significant legal costs. We are very pleased that the matter has now been resolved by negotiation and that the Claimant has recovered the funds that will enable him to make any household modifications required as a result of his compromised mobility".