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NHS staff fail to spot broken back

A critically acclaimed composer has won a negligence claim against a Dudley NHS Foundation Trust, after doctors there failed to identify a broken back.

Andrew Downes, who lives in Birmingham, is now entirely reliant on a wheelchair due to the misdiagnosis of staff at Russell Hall Hospital.

Before the injury Mr. Downes had performed all over the world and wrote the music for the Adrian Boult Hall Royal opening ‘Marshes of Glynn’ in 1986.

After he fell at his home in late 2009, the composer went to hospital in extreme pain but was advised that he only had a urine infection. He had an x-ray, was given some morphine and was sent home; he subsequently lost the feeling in his legs as the spine fracture had become a spinal cord injury.

The claimant has stated that the pain was much worse than anything he had ever experienced and that he knew without any doubt that it wasn’t an infection.

The morphine which he had been given caused some disorientation and led to periods of unconsciousness, when he woke up at one point, he realised that he had lost all the feeling from his legs.

The misdiagnosis of his injury means that Mr. Downes will now require medical attention and support for the remainder of his life.

Dudley’s Russell Hall Hospital has admitted their negligence saying that several errors had been made by staff.

The details of Mr. Downes’ compensation package has yet to be finalised, however, he has not been able to work since the accident.

A clinical negligence solicitor commented that the lack of a correct assessment and prompt treatment has resulted in a devastating change of life for Mr. Downes. Spinal injuries are very serious and it is vital that they are treated quickly and appropriately.