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March pensioner told to exercise broken hip

Reginald Irvine who was told by his Doctor to keep exercising his hip even though it was broken ANL-151027-084413009
Reginald Irvine who was told by his Doctor to keep exercising his hip even though it was broken ANL-151027-084413009

The family of a March pensioner have launched a legal fight after claiming an “incompetent” doctors’ practice failed to diagnose his broken hip.

Paul Irvine said errors in his father Reginald’s care have forced him to undergo two hip operations in just four months.

He claimed a doctor at the town’s Cornerstone Practice failed to spot his right hip had broken, and left him to suffer in pain for nine weeks, before he was rushed to hospital for an emergency hip replacement operation.

And he believes making his father compensate for his fracture is what led to his left hip breaking just weeks later.

The family, of Springfield Avenue, are now taking legal action and plan on suing the GP surgery for negligence.

“For nine weeks my father was prescribed painkillers and told to keep exercising, until the pain became so unbearable we had to call an ambulance for him,” said Paul.

“We trust what doctors tell us, but this goes to show they are not always right. We just don’t want this happening to anyone else.”

Yesterday the Cornerstone Practice in Elwyn Road said it could not comment due to patient confidentiality, although a letter to the family stated that the fracture was “unexpected news”.

It also apologised for the distress caused.

Reginald was seen four times in nine weeks at practice, where he was prescribed painkillers for a suspected nerve condition and advised to do more exercise.

But just days after his last appointment on May 1, he was rushed to hospital for the emergency hip replacement operation.

An X-ray on May 3 revealed his right hip was broken, and he underwent the operation at Peterborough City Hospital (PCH) the very next day.

Reginald said he knew something was seriously wrong when he couldn’t get out of bed to go to the toilet.

“The pain was excruciating, and because I couldn’t move I soiled myself,” he said.

As it was a Sunday, Paul called for an out-of-hours doctor to attend their home.

“As soon as the doctor saw dad he said ‘this should not have gone on for this long’ and called for an ambulance,” he said. “I can’t begin to imagine the pain he was in. All the while we had been encouraging him to keep exercising as the doctor advised, and it was broken all along. The surgery has completely failed him.”

Paul said “alarm bells” started ringing about his father’s diagnosis when he was prescribed a strong, morphine-based painkiller.

He accompanied him to his last appointment and demanded his father be given a scan, but the appointment letter didn’t arrive until two weeks after his operation.

“God knows how much longer they would have made him suffer,” said Paul.

Reginald was in hospital for 17 days after the hip replacement surgery, coming home on May 21.

He then changed his doctors’ practice to Mercheford House Surgery in March, and on September 1 he started getting pains in his left hip.

After one appointment with his new doctor on September 11, he was immediately sent for an X-ray at Doddington Hospital, and his second broken hip was diagnosed.

This time he had a hip repair operation at PCH, involving fixing the joint with pins.

Paul, who also lives with wife Michelle, is convinced that putting more weight on his left leg to compensate for his broken right hip is what caused his father’s left hip to fracture, too.

Independent health regulator, the Care Quality Commission, said Reginald’s case has been reported to them.

A spokesman said: “Information provided by Mr Irvine and his son will be considered for our future inspections of the practice.”

Sarah Fox, business manager at the Cornerstone, said the practice was unable to comment on Reginald’s case “due to our duty of confidentiality to the patient”.

But a letter she wrote to the family in June said: “I am very sorry for the distress that this has caused Mr Irvine.

“We discussed this case in our significant events meeting, and how this case will change the way that the clinicians deal with this type of condition in future.

“Whilst I appreciate that this does not help Mr Irvine, it should mean that the situation does not happen again.”

The doctor concerned also said: “I assure you that I am committed to the care of my patients and put all of my experience into scrutinising their symptoms.

“The fracture was unexpected news to me,” he added.

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