Warrington Mum Of Three Left Crippled By Botched Surgery

Successful Claim After Woman Suffered Nerve Damage During Spinal Surgery


A mum left facing a lifetime of pain and needing crutches to walk after errors made by medical staff at Warrington General Hospital has criticised the trust concerned for not saying sorry for its mistakes – despite winning her legal battle to fund the care she now needs.

Michele Rudge has received a six figure sum in a out of court settlement from Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (formerly North Cheshire Trust) after nerve damage inflicted during spinal surgery at Warrington General in 2005 left her immobile.

The former pre-school assistant’s long-term prognosis is bleak and she has to have round the clock care at home to help with managing the family.

Michele’s solicitor, Jennifer Cawthorne, a clinical negligence specialist at law firm Irwin Mitchell says the Trust needs to learn lessons from its errors to ensure nobody else has to go through the pain and suffering  that Michele and her family has.

Mum-of-three, Michele started suffering with back pain after she had her first child over fifteen years ago. She re-calls;“I had a constant dull pain in my lower back, I wasn’t overly concerned about it but my Mum was insistent that I went to see my GP.”

Following several visits to her GP, Michele was eventually referred to an orthopaedic surgeon at her local hospital, Warrington General who in turn referred her to a Spinal Consultant.

In 2005, following a MRI scan and further tests Michele was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease. The disease affects the discs that sit between the individual spinal vertebrae.  Her consultant recommended a number of treatments to ease the pain including having a disk removed or spinal fusion treatment.

Michele said; “The consultant suggested that the spinal fusion treatment would be the best course of action as it would help alleviate much of the pain.”  Spinal fusion involves permanently connecting — or "welding" — two or more vertebrae together.

In April 2005 Michele underwent the surgery at Warrington General. She recalls; “I was instantly concerned there was a problem – post operation both my legs felt very different and I had a huge amount of pain in my left thigh, I couldn’t feel anything from the knee down.  I was prescribed morphine to try and control pain.”

The day after the operation, Michelle was visited by a physiotherapist who tried to get her up and about. Michelle couldn’t put her left leg down and was traumatised by the pain. After an agonising four days it was decided that Michele needed to be operated on again.

Michele soon learnt that one of the screws implanted to connect the disks had been pushed in too far and had caused nerve damage, she later learnt that the damage was permanent.”

Now, a resilient Michele needs constant help at home from family and carers and can only walk with the aid of crutches. She added: “I have accepted that I am going to be in pain for the rest of my life. Everyday is a battle. The most distressing thing for me is the impact the negligence has had on my family.”

She continued: “My youngest child gets upset that I can’t hold his hand when we go out together and I can’t play with the children like other mums. I don’t know what I would do without my husband and parents, they have all been a tremendous support.”

Solicitor Speaks Our Over Nerve Damage

Michele’s solicitor Jennifer added: “The settlement will help Michele with all the adaptations she has had to make to her home and with her care programme.  The errors made are simply unacceptable.

She continued:  “Such mistakes change lives, not only for those involved but the consequences affect the wider family also.”

Michele’s husband, Harry, used to work overseas but due to Michelle’s disabilities has had to change his career. Michelle is keen to raise awareness of her case and wants to encourage others to seek second opinions before they commit to any surgery they may be fearful of.