39 Day Settlement

Swift Clinical negligence settlement for 94 year old client with plaster burn.

Frances Wright was instructed by 94 year old Mrs G on 5th September 2011 and settled her clinical negligence damages claim for £17,000 on 14th October 2011, just 39 days later. Mrs G suffered a third degree burn from a plaster cast.

Mrs G suffers from the painful condition of pseudoarthritis. She attended Southmead Hospital A and E department and was advised that her left ankle should be immobilised in a below-knee plaster. The doctor applied the cast and left the room. As the plaster hardened it heated up and Mrs G cried that it was burning her leg. A nurse ran to report this to the doctor who did not think it was significant and did not return to check his patient. When the plaster was removed several days later Mrs G was found to have suffered a 3cm diameter burn to her left calf which required skin grafting.

Plaster burns are a known but rare complication. Cast material heats up as it hardens, but normally this only causes minor discomfort and cools rapidly. Occasionally the temperature will rise high enough to cause injury. Studies have shown that the greatest risk is when a thick cast is applied using warm dip water, and the cast is allowed to mature while elevated on a pillow. The Trust is carrying out a Safeguarding Investigation into this incident.

Mrs G’s family contacted the charity Action for Medical Accidents (AvMA) who referred them to Frances. She wrote to North Bristol NHS Trust giving details of the case and inviting them to settle the case for £17,000 plus costs. The Trust’s legal team responded quickly and telephoned Frances on 14th October to accept her settlement offer.

Frances said “My client has had a painful and distressing experience. She is grateful that the Trust and NHS Litigation Authority have recognised that hospital staff acted incorrectly and have acted swiftly to save her the stress of legal action. She looks forward to receiving the final report of the Safeguarding Investigation and hopes that hospital staff will be more aware of the risks of plaster burns in future.”

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