Wrong plates used in orthopaedic operations at NHS Hospitals

Thursday 21st February 2019

Patients undergoing operations to fixate fractured bones, particularly fractured arms and legs over the last year, may have had the wrong type of metal plate inserted.

All NHS Hospitals have been asked to review the X-rays of patients treated with metal plates in the last year.  We know that these kinds of operations are extremely common in NHS practice, and are used to fixate fractures that will not heal satisfactorily using conservative measures, such as a plaster cast.

Patients at one Trust had a flexible plate used, which should have been used for reconstruction surgery. Plates designed for fractures are more robust and rigid.  The fear is, therefore, that these more flexible plates may not adequately hold the position of the fracture fragments, meaning a possible worse outcome, or further surgery.

NHS Improvement, a Regulatory body, has not ruled out that this mistake may have occurred elsewhere, potentially affecting many thousands of patients.  However, only seven patients are currently known to have been affected at present, so the true extent of this issue is currently not known.

One of the patients had fallen and the plate had buckled. They had to undergo further surgery to correct the problem.  Another patient needed more surgery after their plate failed when they were having post-operative physiotherapy.

National Director for Patient Safety, Dr Aidan Fowler, said: “Patients should not be alarmed and do not need to take any action themselves. The risk of harm is low and their local hospital will contact them if there is a chance that they have been affected.”

If you receive a letter or other notification from your hospital indicating that you may have been affected by this, you should not hesitate to contact us for expert advice on what your options may be, including making a medical claim for compensation if you have been injured as a result.

Adam Smith, Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Waldrons Solicitors