Woman left impaired after MRI scan to get £700k

A woman who was visiting a hospital for an MRI scan is in line to receive �700,000. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
A woman who was visiting a hospital for an MRI scan is in line to receive �700,000. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A FORMER civil servant who was injured after a hospital visit for an MRI scan is in line to secure £700,000 damages.

Annabelle Bell was left in pain following the appointment for the scan and underwent surgery on her arm.

Mrs Bell was required to have a contrast agent injected by means of a cannula inserted into a vein but it was put into an artery in her arm.

Mrs Bell, now unemployed, raised an action suing Alliance Medical Ltd, of Warwick, who were contracted by Forth Valley Health Board to carry out the scanning at Falkirk Royal Infirmary in January 2009.

The radiographer who carried out the cannula procedure, Jackie McColl, and the health board were brought into the action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh as third parties.

The judge, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, was told that damages had been agreed at £700,000, but issues over liability and causation remained.

Lord Boyd said it was agreed on the basis of a consensus of expert evidence that a blockage of the artery had been caused by the cannula procedure.

The judge said it was also accepted by the firm and other parties to the action that it had been inserted into the brachial artery.

In the action it was said in pleadings that Mrs Bell, 49, of Maddiston, Falkirk, in Stirlingshire, was later retired from her job and no longer pursues hobbies of golf, running and going to the gym and was unable to lift or play with her grandchildren.

She told the court that before 2009 she had been in good health.

Mrs Bell said that when the cannula was removed following the scan there was a spurt of blood which went onto her white jeans. She said medical assistance should have been sought.

She said Mrs McColl had laughed and said: “I’m getting better at this.”

She had been sent for the MRI scan after suffering severe headaches following surgery the previous year.

She went home after the scan but said her left arm had got worse during the afternoon and when she was peeling potatoes found the pain in her hand increase and dropped the peeler.

She saw her GP and later told her family doctor that she felt like killing herself as the pain was so bad.

Mrs Bell was later seen by a consultant surgeon who noted there was no pulse in the hand or at the elbow and confirmed a blockage of the artery and operated on her.

The highly qualified radiologist Mrs McColl said she could not remember Mrs Bell and had no recollection of any spurt taking place at any time. She had never knowingly punctured an artery.

“She accepted that she might have said something like, ‘I must be getting good at this’. She said it was the sort of thing that she might say to put the patient at her ease,” said the judge.

Lord Boyd said in his judgement: “She refused to accept, despite the admission made on her behalf and the expert medical evidence, that she had in fact inserted the cannula into Mrs Bell’s brachial artery.”

The judge said there was no doubt that Mrs Bell had suffered significant injury.

He said: “Putting the issue of causation to one side for the present there is no doubt in my mind that the starting point for her present condition is a medical error; the cannulation should have been in the vein and not in the artery.”

“The question though is whether there was negligence on the part of the employee, Jackie McColl. That is focused on whether or not there was a spurt of blood which was ignored by Mrs McColl,” he said.

The judge said it was not suggested that putting the cannula in the artery would of itself constitute negligence.

Lord Boyd said: “After a good deal of thought and review of the evidence I have come to the conclusion that on the balance of probability there was a spurt of blood which was ignored by the first third party (Mrs McColl).”

“I have found that on the balance of probability there was a spurt of blood from the pursuer’s arm when the cannula was removed from the artery. Since it occurred while Mrs McColl was removing the cannula it is inconceivable that she was not aware of it,” he said.

The judge said he had concluded that the radiographer was in breach of her duty of care to Mrs Bell and that caused her injury.

Lord Boyd continued the action before pronouncing a final court order.