Wake Smith helps man whose spine was broken during MRI scan receive payout

Wake Smith Solicitors 23 September 2019

Wake Smith Solicitors has helped a man whose spine was broken by medical staff during an MRI scan at a Bristol hospital gain a compensation payment.

Timothy Newton, 43, was suffering from a painful flare up as a result of his pre-existing spinal condition Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and was sent to Frenchay Hospital via Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton after medical staff thought him unable to fit into the MRI scanner there due to the curvature of his spine.

He was placed under general anaesthetic and an MRI scan was attempted in a closed MRI scanner at Frenchay – which measured exactly the same size as the scanner at Musgrove Park.

When he came round, he had blisters to his abdomen and severe pain in his lower back and when finally seen by his original consultant back at Musgrove Park, he was diagnosed with having a fracture of his spine.

Now eight years on, Mr Newton has been awarded an undisclosed sum for the blunder which happened in October 2011 thanks to Wake Smith Solicitors in Sheffield.

Mr Newton, from Minehead in Somerset, said: “My Consultant advised that I would require an open or upright MRI scanner to accommodate my curvature as I had done in the past at a previous hospital. However, after discussion with the neurosurgeons at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, I was transferred to there from Musgrove, so that they could complete a scan under general anaesthetic in their scanner.

“When I woke up I was in severe pain and had blisters on my stomach caused by the scanner. I knew something wasn’t right when I woke up laid flat and facing the ceiling, which I had not been able to do for many years. I was told that the MRI scan had failed to identify a new injury and was sent back to Musgrove Park.

“Eventually, I was seen by my original Consultant who immediately noted my change in posture. After another MRI scan, in the scanner in which I could now fit due to my injury, a very significant fracture was identified in my spine. I then had to undergo major, and life threatening surgery where a number of vertebrae were fused together by a metal plate.

“I’ve finally been compensated, but they’ve never admitted their mistake, and I’ve still not had an apology.

“I have lost the ability to reach below my waist or above my head and have also lost function in my neck. I can’t do simple tasks like putting my socks on and need help going to the toilet.”

North Bristol NHS Trust never admitted causing Mr Newton’s condition and the case was settled earlier this year for an undisclosed sum, just ahead of a trial at court, Wake Smith said.

Scott Haslam, a clinical negligence specialist at Wake Smith in Sheffield, who took on the case, said: “This was an incredibly complex matter given Mr Newton’s pre-existing condition. Even though he was severely disabled before, this incident has made his life even more difficult.

“Despite supportive evidence from nine specialist medical experts in Mr Newton’s case, North Bristol NHS Trust continuously denied the allegations. It was clear that Mr Newton could not fit into the MRI scanner. The spinal fracture was the most significant I have seen on an MRI scan in many years of dealing with those who have suffered from clinical errors.

“Whilst we are pleased that Mr Newton has finally been provided with the compensation he is entitled to, an earlier conclusion of this case could have saved costs at a time when the NHS is under increasing pressure. Mr Newton was left waiting for eight years for answers and still does not have an acknowledgement of a mistake or an apology from the Trust.

“We hope that North Bristol NHS Trust learn from their mistakes and that procedures have now been put in place to avoid a similar incident in the future.”

AS, is a progressive inflammatory condition, which eventually results in curvature and fusion of the patient’s spine. Sufferers can have several flare-ups a year, where they can experience significantly increased pain and become bed-bound.



May 20244April 20242March 20247February 20242January 20248December 20236November 20232October 20235September 20232August 20234July 20232June 20235May 20238March 20234February 20235January 20233December 20225November 20224October 20224September 20223August 20221June 20221May 20227April 20223March 20223February 20223January 20224December 20214November 20213October 20215September 20216August 20212July 202111June 20218May 20216April 20212March 20218February 20218January 20219December 20208November 202013October 20209September 20208August 20203July 20208June 202016May 202013April 20209March 202016February 20209January 202011December 20199November 20199October 201911September 20195August 20194July 20196May 20198April 20196March 20193February 20195January 20194December 20186November 20185October 20182September 20185August 20184July 20189June 20184May 201810April 20185March 20184February 20184January 20183December 20175November 20178October 20177September 20179August 20175July 20176June 201710May 20176April 20178March 201711February 20176January 201712December 20169November 20167October 201610September 201610August 20166July 20167June 20163May 20162April 20166March 20162February 20164January 20165December 20153November 20155October 20156September 20156August 20157July 20157June 20157May 20156April 20159March 20156February 201510January 20156December 20145November 20144October 20142September 20143May 20144March 20146February 20144January 20142December 20132November 20133September 20134July 20132June 20132May 20133April 20131March 20133February 20133January 20136December 20121November 20123October 20122August 20122July 20128June 20123April 20123March 20121January 20124December 20112November 20111October 20112September 20113August 20113July 20117June 20119May 20117April 20115March 20119February 20118January 20111December 20101October 20102September 20102August 20103July 20106June 20101May 20102April 20106March 20102February 20103January 20102December 20095November 20092October 20092September 20092August 20091July 20095June 20095May 20093April 20093March 20093February 20091January 20092November 20082October 20082September 20081August 20083July 20081January 20082

Featured Articles

Contact us