Settlement in osteoradionecrosis case

Louise Austin of Davies and Partners Solicitors acted for Mr C in a claim following the development of osteoradionecrosis due to negligent dental treatment.

In 2000, Mr C received radiotherapy to his jaw for throat cancer. Radiotherapy destroys healthy as well as cancerous cells and affects the bone’s ability to heal leaving Mr C at risk of developing osteoradionecrosis - a condition which causes bone to die.

In November 2004, Mr C’s dentist, Dr Farrant, extracted one of Mr C’s teeth. The dentist negligently failed to do this under antibiotic cover, despite being aware of Mr C’s medical history. This led to infection developing at the extraction site and that in turn led to osteoradionecrosis.

Mr C was referred to hospital for specialist treatment, in the form of antibiotics and oxygen therapy, to try and halt the spread of osteoradionecrosis. Unfortunately, that was unsuccessful and he had to undergo numerous, extensive surgical procedures to excise dead bone and tissue from his jaw and replace it with bone and tissue grafted from other areas of his body. The treatment was prolonged by wound breakdown and infection.

Following the various surgeries, Mr C was left with significant, unsightly scarring to his face and neck. The scarring restricted the movement of his neck and right arm, causing pain and weakness. He also had scarring on his arms, legs and chest from the various grafting procedures. As part of his surgical treatment, teeth were removed from his mouth and his tongue tethered to the side of his mouth to aid healing. This left him with numbness of his face and restricted jaw opening which affected his speech and ability to eat and drink. The treatment and its effects caused Mr C to suffer with significant depression and his appearance left him socially isolated and withdrawn. He was unable to continue in his self-employment as a plumber.
The dentist admitted liability following a letter of claim and forwarded a letter of apology to Mr C. His representatives accepted C’s evidence on quantum and the claim was settled in the sum of £189,000.

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