A BROMSGROVE social worker has been awarded a £2million settlement after he was left paralysed from the waist down due to medical negligence.
Stephen Onley, 56, suffered a spinal injury after a routine hip operation at Birmingham Royal Orthopedic Hospital on December 6, 2010 and was persuaded to have an epidural which later caused a lack of blood flow to the spine.
He said: “I had spent more than 35 years caring for people with spinal injuries and so I was only too aware that epidurals carry a small, but nevertheless serious, risk of paralysis. I had made up my mind not to have an epidural under any circumstances but was told that it was recommended.”
During his aftercare at the hospital several blood pressure checks were missed in the first few hours after surgery. By the following day Stephen’s blood pressure was dangerously low and caused irreparable damage.
It was December 8 when the night-staff realised Stephen could not feel his lower body and an MRI revealed he would never work again. The damage also left him with a perforated bowel and he was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for emergency surgery.
Stephen spent more than two months in hospital and a further six months in a specialist spinal injuries unit, before finally being allowed home in August 2011.
“I am now completely reliant upon my wife who has to care for me round the clock,” he added, “My life has been changed forever since this incident and nothing will ever be the same again.”
Nearly five years later his solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, won the settlement which will go towards making his home wheelchair accessible.
“The settlement gives me the peace of mind that I will be able to access the rehabilitation and therapies I need to help me live as independently as possible.
“It will be nice to finally be able to complete the adaptations to my house, so it is fully accessible. The house that we lived in when I was injured was really difficult to adapt. Luckily we were able to incorporate some outbuildings to make an accessible bedroom and wet room for me whilst my case was being investigated.”
A spokeswoman for the trust said: “We would like to extend our most sincere apologies to Mr Onley for what happened in 2010. We are pleased that this settlement will support him going forward but we are of course sorry that it has been necessary.
“We regularly review all our policies and procedures, including those which focus on post-operative care and deteriorating patients, to ensure they are in line with national guidance. After serious incidents such as this one, we try to establish exactly what has happened and why. It is using this knowledge that we can prevent similar incidents in the future.”