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Anthony Franklin Degaris v Mid Kent Healthcare Trust (2000) QBD (Crane J) 24 January 2000
Claimant: Male, 49 years old at date of accident; 55 years old at date of settlement.
Incident: On 23 December 1993 the claimant was admitted to the defendant's hospital following a road traffic accident in which he had been thrown from his van and rendered unconscious. At the hospital, the claimant was examined and x-rayed, in addition to being breathalysed by a police officer, who unintentionally acutely flexed the claimant's neck and allowed his head to fall back on the trolley. A diagnosis was made of a minor, and possibly old, undisplaced fracture of the neck, and a record was made in the clinical notes of a body of C2 fracture with no displacement. Between 23 and 30 December 1993 the claimant complained of increasing neck pain. On 30 December 1993 further x-rays of his cervical spine were taken, one of which showed increased displacement of the fracture with an anterior shift of the first cervical vertebra on the second. On the same day, the claimant's wife gave oral assent to the fitting of a halo frame for the treatment of her husband. The claimant underwent the fitting under local anaesthetic, but the halo was poorly aligned and the surgeons did not have the appropriate instruments to fit the halo properly. Two days after the operation, the two anterior skull screws holding the halo in place became dislodged and a further two holes had to be drilled into the claimant's forehead so that the halo could be reapplied. Liability disputed.
Injuries: The claimant suffered a displaced fracture of the cervical spine with an anterior shift of the first cervical vertebra on the second. The claimant suffered headaches, weakness, disorientation, severe depression and changes in his personality. The claimant had been unable to work since the accident and suffered from a form of post-traumatic stress.
Award: £150,000 total damages (out of court settlement)