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Written by Richard Money-Kyrle

Boyes Turner’s spinal injury specialists have obtained a substantial settlement for a tetraplegic client whose devastating condition was caused by a fall from the hospital chair where he was left to sleep after undergoing unnecessary spinal surgery.

Catalogue of errors

Our client’s tetraplegia arose from a succession of medical errors after he hurt his neck and was incorrectly advised (owing to a misinterpreted MRI scan) that he needed to have C5/6 fusion surgery, even though there was no evidence of spinal cord compression. During the surgery he suffered a dural tear and leakage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

After his post-operative discharge from hospital, he was readmitted with neck and arm pain, headaches and bleeding from his neck wound, and was incorrectly placed on a cardiac ward, where he remained, despite a normal ECG, with no spinal, orthopaedic or neurological review to establish whether his symptoms were related to his recent spinal surgery.

 If he had been reviewed properly, he would have undergone an MRI scan which would have revealed a haematoma and spinal cord changes requiring further surgery. He would have then been nursed appropriately in a bed. Instead, with little regard for his inability to get into bed unaided, he was left to sleep in a chair.

Whilst asleep, he fell out of the chair, face forwards, injuring his cervical spinal cord which was vulnerable due to his spinal haematoma.

In the immediate aftermath of the fall, his complaint of paralysis was ignored. With no spinal protection, he was hoisted into a bed and was neither examined neurologically nor treated with urgent cervical decompression. By the time his condition was eventually diagnosed, his tetraplegia was already permanent.


The defendant hospital’s own investigation report into these events condemned the standard of care that our client received following his fall. The claim was however strenuously denied throughout court proceedings, only conceding liability when the NHS Trust chose not to serve any expert evidence supporting its position.

Judgement and settlement

We entered judgment and obtained a £300,000 interim payment to pay for our client’s case management, therapies, specialist equipment and suitable accommodation, whilst we worked closely with him and our experts to assess his long-term needs and the value of his claim.

A compensation settlement has now been agreed with a lump sum figure of £1.5 million together with life-long, index-linked, annual payments for care and case management of £225,000 per year.

If you or a family member have suffered a spinal injury as a result of medical negligence, an accident at work or a road traffic accident, contact us by email at