Claim for misread records

A consultant orthopaedic surgeon was asked by solicitors to examine their client for a report on the condition and prognosis of a patient who had sustained injuries in a road traffic accident. The consultant obtained access to other clinical records. From another clinician's letter he extracted the statement:

"There is no electrodiagnostic evidence of compression of the right median nerve at the wrist." He gave an opinion accordingly.

Six months later, the patient's solicitors raised further queries. The consultant went back to his previous records and found to his chagrin that the other clinician's letter had in reality read

"There is electrodiagnostic evidence of compression of the right median nerve at the wrist." He notified the solicitors of the error; they were able to change their approach and the patient's claim was settled for a satisfactory sum.

Nevertheless the patient's solicitors had been put to additional expense in calculating and then recalculating loss of earnings and special damages. They put in a claim against the consultant for 22 hours extra work, valued at £1,971. They were cheeky enough to try to add VAT (even though the sum concerned had not in fact been charged out either to their client or to the defendant insurance company). When confronted by a reply from the MDU, the solicitors agreed that their true out-of-pocket expenses were around £1,300. The claim was settled for that amount – within three weeks of its notification.

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