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Alexander Glancy v The Southern General Hospital NHS Trust [2013] CSOH 35 - 1/3/2013


Medical negligence: Proof: Quantum agreed. The puruser presented at his general practitioner with neck and upper arm pain. He also complained of other pain such as paraesthesia in his left hand. The pursuer thereafter underwent 4 operations. The first two operations consisted of a micro forminotomy and cervical discectomy. These provided some relief but significant pain continued. The third operation involved fixation of his spine by a Halifax clamp to bring about fusion. After the third operation, the pursuer was left with incomplete tetrapleagia. The forth operation was to remove the Halifax clamp and to attempt to reverse the effects of the third operation, which was unsuccessful. The operations were carried out by Mr Johnston. The pursuer averred: Mr Johnston had failed to warn of a significant risk of paralysis and tetrapleagia in undergoing the third operation; Mr Johnston had failed to carry out proper investigations before proceeding with the posterior fixation of the cervical spine and that he should have carried out a myelogram or MRI scan; Mr Johnston failed to carry out a laminectomy to decompress the spinal cord at c3/4 and c4/5 level and failed to explore the pursuer's cervical spine between c3-5 to check for compression and any extra-dural haematoma in the fourth operation and; not having carried out up to date x-rays and/or temporary external immobilisation and a myelogram or MRI scan, Mr Johnston should have carried out a different operation. The last case was abandoned in submissions. Considered: the cause of the injury did not require to be established; how the court should approach conflicting expert medical evidence on acceptable medical practice when applying the Hunter v Hanley test; reliability of witnesses in the circumstances. Held: Mr Johnston had not failed in his duties. The pursuer could not succeed.