Patient And Medical Negligence Experts Call For Lessons To Be Learned
A patient who suffered “significant” burns when a hospital wrongly used a heated mattress during surgery has spoken of his hope for the future after lawyers secured him a settlement.
Paul Hickman suffered burns to his buttocks and the back of both his thighs during surgery to improve the circulation in his leg at Dudley’s Russell Hall Hospital in March 2021.
Paul asks medical negligence lawyers to investigate
Following the incident Paul, who lives near Walsall town centre, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.
An NHS investigation report found Paul suffered his injuries after the use of heated mattresses was stopped in the type of procedure he underwent after another patient was burnt several years earlier.
Dudley Hospital Trust admits breach of duty and apologises
Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Russell Hall, admitted a breach of duty. It acknowledged that it was inappropriate to use the type of heated mattress during the procedure. The Trust admitted that Paul’s burns resulted “in a prolonged stay in hospital”.
Through NHS Resolution the Trust apologised to Paul. Irwin Mitchell has secured Paul an undisclosed settlement from the Trust which will help him access the ongoing support he needs following his injuries.
Medical negligence expert calls for lessons to be learned
Alexandra Roberts, the medical negligence specialist at Irwin Mitchell representing Paul, said: “This is an extremely worrying incident in which Paul received severe but avoidable burns. What’s even more concerning is that Paul’s injuries came after another patient was injured in a similar incident and the Trust had taken measures to apparently avoid a repeat of such an incident.
“What happened to Paul and how it has impacted on his life has been incredibly tough for him both physically and emotionally.
“While nothing will make up what he’s been through, we’re pleased to have provided him with the answers he deserves. We now call on the Trust to ensure it learns all lessons possible from Paul’s case so that its guidance around the use of heated mattresses is upheld at all times.”
Medical negligence: Paul Hickman's story
Paul underwent surgery on 29 March, 2021. After the procedure, he complained of severe pain and it emerged that he had burns to his thigh and buttocks.
He remained in hospital until 3 April, 2021.
Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust declared what happened to Paul a major incident.
A root cause analysis report by the Trust found the use of alcohol-based solution during Paul’s preparation for surgery and the “inappropriate use” of a heated mattress in surgery led to his burns.
The “unusual combination created the ideal circumstances to create a significant burn” on Paul, the report said.
It added Paul’s injuries were sustained after another patient suffered burns in 2016 which led to the “complete stopping” of heated mattresses being used in certain vascular procedures.
Paul speaks of life-changing impact of his injuries
Paul said: “I hoped that the surgery would go well and would improve my health. However, all I remember afterwards was being in severe pain. To be told I had suffered burns was a complete shock and at first was difficult to try and take in. I couldn’t understand how that had happened.
“The pain from the burns and scars I had all down the back of the tops of my legs was unbearable. I was in so much pain and painkillers didn’t really take the edge off.
“While it’s nearly two years since the incident it still affects my life. While the burns are healing I still have a lot of marks and scars and I’ve been told I’ll have some scarring for life.
“Because of my injuries I now have to sit differently and lean more to the side. They feel dry and scaly and I have to apply cream.
“The hardest thing to try and accept is that I feel what happened to me could and should have been avoided, especially as sadly somebody else was injured before me and action to prevent it happening to someone else apparently taken.
“While nothing will make up for what’s happened I’m pleased that I’ve at least got answers and I can try to start looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past.
“I just hope that by sharing my story it prevents anything like this happening to anyone else.”