‘Clerical error’ costs health trust £1.2million

11:59 16 July 2014

North Devon District Hospital.

North Devon District Hospital.

Archant

North Devon health bosses settle out of court after nine year legal battle.

NORTHERN Devon Healthcare Trust has been hit with a bill for more than £1million after being sued by a former patient.

The trust agreed to settle out of court with Edward Appleby following a legal battle over his treatment at North Devon District Hospital in 2005, which he claimed resulted in the loss of his leg.

The trust has not admitted liability for negligence but has apologised to him for ‘incomplete documentation’ on his care following a road accident, after some of his medical notes could not be found.

It has offered to pay the 40-year-old a six figure sum in damages, which together with legal costs could see the bill rise to an estimated £1.2m.

But Mr Appleby said he was surprised to hear the trust was putting the loss of his leg and a seven figure payout down to a problem with paperwork.

The former triathlete, climber and Territorial Army reservist had been living in Bampton at the time and was a qualified osteopath with his own practice at Dulverton, but has been unable to work since his injury, caused by a road accident.

‘Nine lost years’

He said endless operations, medical appointments and the lengthy legal battle had cost nearly a decade of his life and left him unable to work.

“That was nine years where other men would be progressing their careers, getting married and having children, but I haven’t been able to do that,” he said.

Mr Appleby was treated at the hospital after his right leg was badly broken in a motorcycle collision near East Anstey on June 2, 2005.

‘Agony’

He sued the trust for negligence, alleging that following a morning operation at Barnstaple to align his broken femur, he had been left in a corridor ‘screaming in agony’ for hours because the blood supply to his leg had been cut off.

Despite begging staff for assistance and identifying his own condition as compartment syndrome – swelling which restricts veins and arteries - he claimed his pleas were brushed off until 8.15pm that night, when he finally underwent emergency surgery.

By then part of his leg had died. As part of his legal claim, independent expert and orthopaedic consultant Professor John Fairclough stated ‘In my opinion… the standard of management fell below that of a reasonably competent practitioner in failing to diagnose a compartment syndrome’.

The case also alleged that when he woke up the next day he found the femur incorrectly aligned, so his foot was facing the wall.

Despite numerous operations at different hospitals in the following years, the leg was eventually amputated.

The claim lodged with the High Court also listed a catalogue of alleged negligence by hospital staff in Barnstaple, including that when admitted he weighed 84 kilos and only 75 just 12 days later and was suffering from bedsores.

Ombudsman

Now the legal settlement has been agreed, Mr Appleby, who now lives in Exeter, intends to pursue his complaint via the health ombudsman.

In a statement, the trust confirmed its settlement offer had been accepted. Dr Alison Diamond, chief executive, said: “The trust would like to apologise to Mr Appleby for the incomplete documentation surrounding his care.

“While we have confidence in the quality of care provided to Mr Appleby, the investigation of the claim was complicated by the fact there were shortcomings in record-keeping on the part of the trust.

“We are a learning organisation and have worked hard to improve the quality of our documentation over recent years.

“We conduct regular internal and external audits reviewing the quality of documentation of clinical care to check our progress and can confirm we have made great improvements on this score.”

His solicitor Jonathan Zimmern of Fieldfisher, said: “His amputation had a devastating effect on his life and his career and I hope that the compensation he has received will help him to get the prosthetics and rehabilitation he needs to move forward.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other North Devon Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by North Devon Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique North Devon Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

The mini run 2015 in Bideford. Pictures: Graham Hobbs

The mini run was back in North Devon this weekend celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Mini Grand Tour.

Read more
11:28
Barnstaple McDonald's.

Restaurant to install digital order points and extra drive through lane

Read more
09:07
North Devon Magistrates' Court.

Theft of £18 aquarium pump from Barnstaple shop lands 26-year-old man owing the court nearly £300.

Read more
08:01
Woody Bay Station is giving half its takings to Children's Hospice South West this weekend.

Visit Woody Bay station on September 5 & 6 and help Children’s Hospice South West

Read more
Sunday, August 30, 2015
The Torrington Trumpton bonfire 2015.

Crowds were treated to a giant charity bonfire and spectacular fireworks display in Torrington last night (Saturday).

Read more
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Winkleigh Airfield aircraft watch tower

A two-storey World War Two watchtower and parts of a secret wartime airfield are being auctioned for £35,500-£50,000 on September 22, along with its nine acres of land and several outbuildings.

Read more
Friday, August 28, 2015
Bideford Hospital.

Health bosses announces plans for sessions in Hatherleigh, Lynton and Barnstaple

Read more
Friday, August 28, 2015

Fire fighters rushed to flat in Marlborough Court, Bideford, where they found a woman trapped inside and smoke issuing from the building.

Read more
Friday, August 28, 2015
Artist's impression of the completed Anchorwood Bank development

Firs stage of major Barnstaple development will be completed by Christmas 2016

Read more
Friday, August 28, 2015
Natalie Jones lost her life in the collision near Knowle. Picture: Michelle Ley

A 30-year-old from Ilfracombe has been questioned by police following the fatal collision on August 21

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 9°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition today E-edition


North Devon's trusted business finder