I sat together with some of my friends the other week and we were discussing some crazy tenancy law question. I know, terribly grown-up, but what was even more grown-up was my friend Emma, who casually said “Oh I’ll ask my lawyer about that next time I see her.” When on earth did we get old enough to have a lawyer? Not just a lawyer, but someone we call “my lawyer”, someone who we regularly rely on for all our legal questions.
And then I remembered that I had a lawyer myself a couple of years back. Not for tenancy law questions or anything grown-up like that, but because I was a victim of medical negligence. If you believe the research that Pryers put into the infographic below, at least 340 blunders are occurring on NHS maternity wards every day and over 300 ‘never events’ are happening yearly in UK hospitals. Quite scary, if you ask me, and that’s probably why The Shocking Times has picked up on it in one of their recent articles.
When I was 19 years old and in my last year of secondary school, I injured my foot in what was the most pointless exercises in the world. It was a Friday (in fact the day after my 19th birthday), we had a double session of PE and for some reason I had got it into my head that I wanted to excel in an exercise that involved me jumping up and down in front of a wall and leaving chalk marks on it. I know, it sounds thrilling. My last jump had the desired result: I left the highest chalk mark on the wall and got the grade I wanted, BUT it also led me straight into hospital. I can’t remember much of the accident itself. My friends said, you could hear big bang and cracking noise and then I woke up on the floor. I must have fainted during the jump, but wasn’t in too much pain afterwards. I jumped into the changing rooms where I phoned my mum and she instantly came to pick me up with a pair of crutches that we had at home from a former injury.
She took me straight to A&E where I was sent for an X-ray and I’m not lying, it was absolute agony. My foot was put into a bench vice type of thing that allowed the doctors to straighten it and see what was wrong. Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t see my injury because of a shadow on the X-ray and insisted that everything was perfectly fine with me before sending me home with an air cast that didn’t really do anything for me. In the end, I wobbled back and forth between doctors for over a year, but it took another incident and an MRI scan for a doctor to finally notice what was wrong with my foot.
I had developed an injury/illness called osteochondrosis dissecans, which is very rare in humans and usually found in cows and dogs. Glamourous, hey? My doctor however was rather excited about it all and even re-scheduled his skiing holiday, so he could attend surgery. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and I found myself on the operating table again two years down the line, but that’s not what this is about. I knew that the first set of surgery could possibly require a follow-up operation and I was as happy with that as that’s the risk you take when you go under the knife. What really got to me is, is that doctors pretended that I was a hypochondriac for one and a half years when in fact they couldn’t be bothered to properly check what was wrong with me in the first place. All it would have taken for them to diagnose me properly was an MRI scan but that apparently was too much hassle “seeing that there was nothing wrong with me”.
In the end, I lost a year at university, missed out on work experience and was miserable for a good year, but thanks to my lawyer I got some compensation for the most boring and painful time in my life. Compensation allowed me to travel and do things I usually wouldn’t have had the money for as a student, so if you think you might have a case, phone up a lawyer for professional advice. It could really make a difference.
Have you been a victim of medical blunder? Did you sue for compensation?
This is a post with an image from Artur Bergman.