Delayed diagnosis and treatment of septic arthritis in shoulder joint

Anita Marriott, specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitor, settled a claim relating to delayed diagnosis and treatment of septic arthritis in a shoulder joint.

Septic arthritis is inflammation of a joint caused by a bacterial infection and is considered to be a medical emergency. Septic arthritis typically causes severe pain, swelling, redness and heat in affected joints and the symptoms typically develop quickly over a few hours or days. The sooner the infection is picked up and treated, the better the outlook. If the condition is left untreated, it can become life threatening and can lead to permanent joint damage.

Davies and Partners were instructed by Ms W following the delayed diagnosis and treatment of septic arthritis in her left shoulder whilst under the care of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Ms W was diagnosed with a frozen left shoulder and was initially treated by physiotherapy and subsequently had a steroid injection administered. It was following the steroid injection that Ms W complained of increasing pain and was referred by her GP for an urgent review by the Orthopaedic team at the Queen’s Hospital who admitted Ms W on two separate occasions on 21st May and 25th May, but failed, despite clear indications of septic arthritis, to undertake any operative treatment to washout and debride the infected shoulder until 27th May. Whilst the Defendant Hospital admitted that Ms W’s care fell below a reasonable standard in that the infection was missed when admitted on 21st May and a delay in treatment following her re-admission on 25th May, they made no admissions as to the causative affect of their admitted breaches.

As a result of the significant delay in treatment it was alleged on behalf of Ms W that she developed a serious infection and had consequently required multiple investigations and procedures to the left shoulder and was left with significant and permanent pain and functional loss in the shoulder and persisting evidence of a full thickness rotator cuff tear which not present prior to the infection. The Defendant Hospital Trust was not in agreement with the alleged causative effects of their admitted negligence.

Proceedings were issued and, following disclosure of medical evidence and a period of negotiation, settlement was agreed and approved by the Court in the global sum of £31,000.

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