The Claimant, a 67 year old lady, received £4,000 in full and final settlement of her claim against her GP surgery for a needlestick injury.

Background

The Claimant went to her GP surgery to have her annual flu injection. She saw a Healthcare Assistant (HA) to have the injection administered. She felt the needle go into her arm and then HA told her that the syringe was broken and she had to do it again. A further syringe was obtained and the injection carried out. The Claimant returned home.

Shortly after arriving home she received a phone call from her GP surgery informing her that they feared they had injected her with a used needle. She was advised to attend A&E immediately and that the surgery would contact them ahead of her arrival.

The Claimant went straight to her local A&E department where she spent the majority of the day having blood tests were carried out. It was not until approximately 5pm that day that the Claimant became aware of the seriousness of the matter when she was advised that she would require HIV suppressant medication. She was also started on a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations. She was advised that she would have to take the mediation for at least one month whilst they obtained the results of the blood tests, during which period she would also have to undergo regular testing.

The Claimant was devastated by this news and went into a state of deep shock. She was very tearful, anxious and depressed. She was concerned about the side effects of the drugs that she was taking and felt embarrassment at having to attend the Sexual Health Clinic on a regular basis.

During the course of the month the Claimant found it difficult to concentrate on anything. She had difficulty sleeping and had disturbing dreams. She had constant headaches as well as nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty with her memory. She reported that she was unable to function properly in her day to day life and had intrusive thoughts constantly, such that she could not concentrate to do the most simple or mundane of tasks, like cook a meal. The Claimant’s state of mind affected her relationship with her family and she felt unable to socialise. She was unable to have an intimate relationship with her husband. She had mood swings and a short temper and took her anxieties out on her family.

The Claimant had a pre-existing condition, Telogen effluvium which is stress-related and was exacerbated by the incident. The Claimant also had side effects from the HIV medication prescribed and became concerned about the long term effects on her liver and kidneys.

At the end of the one month period the Claimant was advised that the blood test results showed that she was clear of HIV infection, however there was still a risk of Hepatitis B. She had to undergo a further course of 3 Hepatitis B injections over the course of the following month.

Injuries

The Claimant was injected with a needle that had already been used on another patient. As a result she suffered from anxiety and depression and had an exacerbation of her pre-existing scalp condition.

No medical evidence was obtained however it was estimated that the symptoms resolved within a 3 month period.

Legal Proceedings

A letter of claim was sent to the Defendant on 05/02/2018 with a Part 36 offer to settle the claim. After negotiation the matter concluded on 28/11/2018.

Settlement

The claim was settled in the sum of £4,000 for PSLA. There were no special damages claimed. The defendant also agreed to pay the claimant’s costs of the case, which had been run under a conditional fee agreement.

For the Claimant: Sarah Towler, Russell-Cooke LLP

For the Defendant(s): Medical Defence Union