Morton Fraser wins medical negligence case after six year battle

In a Court of Session judgement issued on Thursday,Morton Fraser was successful in securing substantial damages for its client injured when her artery was punctured during a routine procedure at Falkirk & District Royal Infirmary in 2009.

Morton Fraser represented Annabelle Bell of Falkirk, in a case brought against Alliance Medical Ltd and two of its employees. Damages were agreed at £700,000.

The case revolved around whether the correct response was made when an injection into Mrs Bell’s arm went wrong.

In the judges’ opinion, there was a spurt of blood which should have been acted upon. Because it was ignored, Mrs Bell subsequently suffered from considerable pain and loss of movement in her arm and has had to undergo numerous surgical procedures.

The decision of Lord Boyd of Duncansby (pictured) was ultimately based on the evidence of a number of witnesses and their recollection of events which had happened six years ago.

The medical negligence action arose out of the cannulation of Mrs Bell’s arm during a MRI scan at Falkirk & District Royal Infirmary on 26 January 2009.

Alliance Medical were contracted by Forth Valley Health Board to carry out MRI scanning.

They were responsible for management and operation of the MRI scanning unit at the time.

The first third party was Jackie McColl, an employee of the defenders and the radiographer who carried out the cannulation of the arm.

The second third party was the health board who own and operate the hospital.

Mrs Bell attended for a MRI scan on 26 January 2009. She was injected with a contrast medium, gadolinium, by means of a cannula inserted into a vein in the antecubital fossa of the left arm.

It was accepted by the defenders and both third parties that the cannula was in fact inserted into the brachial artery.

As a result of the puncture of her artery, Mrs Bell has suffered from considerable pain and loss of movement in her arm, and has required to undergo numerous surgical procedures.

Mrs Bell’s case was that there was a spurt of blood which left her arm when the cannula was removed.

That was indicative of an arterial puncture. Mrs Bell said that spurt of blood was ignored by the radiologist, Mrs McColl.

Had it been identified and assistance been sought then it is probable that she would not have suffered loss and damage.

The defenders and the first and second third parties denied that there was a spurt of blood.

Lord Boyd had to determine whether there was a spurt of blood on removal of the cannula and, if so, whether Mrs McColl’s negligence caused injury to the pursuer.

He heard evidence from a number of witnesses at trial in November and December 2014. Mrs Bell herself spoke about the procedure she underwent, and about her subsequent attendances at her GP and hospital.

Lord Boyd also heard from Mrs McColl, though she could not remember having treated Mrs Bell. Mrs McColl was described as being dogmatic as she was not prepared to accept that she may have made a mistake.

The court also heard from various expert witnesses who spoke to what happens when an artery is punctured and how it ought to be treated, to avoid the deterioration suffered by Mrs Bell.

Lord Boyd preferred the pursuer’s evidence and held that there had been a spurt of blood, which was ignored by Mrs McColl. He went on to find that the puncture of the brachial artery was the cause of the subsequent injuries that Mrs Bell had sustained.

Accordingly, he found Mrs Bell entitled to damages in respect of her injuries. Those damages had been agreed at £700,000.

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