Q&A If aunt’s hip replacement was bodged, can she claim for clinical negligence?

Q: My aunt had a hip replacement late last year. The new hip is fine, but she is now experiencing mobility difficulties and great pain in her other hip and in her back. Investigation of this showed that she does not need a new hip on that side, and she has been told the problems are more than likely due to a leg length discrepancy that occurred during the fitting of her artificial hip. Could she make a claim for medical negligence? If so, it could go towards getting the problem rectified privately, if that is even possible.

A: Hip replacements are a tried and tested procedure and are generally performed to a high standard. However, there are a few potential complications that can occur through negligence on the part of the surgeon, and leg length discrepancy is one of them. For example, this can happen if the implant is the wrong size, or if it is poorly positioned during surgery.

When the leg length is increased by more than a few centimetres, it can result in an abnormal body posture and walking pattern, which may trigger various other problems, such as functional scoliosis, problems with the hips, knees and ankles.

So, getting the correct measurements in the first instance and removing the exact amount of bone is critical. Whilst it is the surgeon’s responsibility to ensure all such potential risks are avoided, errors do unfortunately sometimes occur.

Sometimes a leg length difference can be anticipated and therefore countered in surgery, but other times, it may be unexpected and lead to the need for total replacement surgery within a couple of years of the initial operation.

Proving the discrepancy is due to clinical error can be tricky, and certainly a leg lengthening of less than 2cm is generally considered just an unfortunate outcome of the procedure. It is therefore imperative that your aunt seeks advice from a local clinical negligence lawyer with experience in this type of claim as soon as possible.

This question has been answered by Claire Parfitt, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.

If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, book an appointment by visiting GHP Legal or contacting one of our offices:

Wrexham Office

Email: wrexham@ghplegal.com

Phone: 01978 291456

Llangollen Office:

Email: llangollen@ghplegal.com

Phone: 01978 860313

Oswestry Office:

Email: oswestry@ghplegal.com

Phone: 01691 659194

Claire Parfitt

Claire Parfitt

Senior Solicitor

Senior Solicitor within our Civil Litigation team in Wrexham and Oswestry