The Townsville Hospital main entrance.
The Townsville Hospital main entrance.

Hospital sued over nerve root injection

A MAN is suing the Townsville Hospital over claims he suffered a paralysed diaphragm after undergoing procedures, rendering him unemployable and out of pocket.

Retired truck driver Hugh Anthony Connell, 68, has filed a personal injury claim against the hospital in the Townsville District Court.

In court documents, Mr Connell claims he has lost $216,000 in income from May 2017 as well as more than $20,000 in superannuation.

Mr Connell is seeking more than $130,000 for future expenses such as domestic assistance, medication and therapy on top of damages.

In April 2016, Mr Connell visited his GP over numbness and pain in his fingers and neck pain. On June 1, 2016, he consulted neurosurgeon Dr Laurance Marshman, who noted the plaintiff had "left sided brachialgia", a pain associated with a problem with nerves in the neck.

In August that year, Mr Connell visited the hospital for a cervical nerve root injection. The procedure was performed by Dr Dougal Brown, who noted afterwards that the "procedure was tolerated well with no immediate complications".

Mr Connell claims the risk of injury to the phrenic nerve causing hemidiaphragmatic paresis was not discussed.

On September 7, he went back to the hospital for another injection.

A couple of days later, Mr Connell noticed he was short of breath and on September 22, he visited his GP, who warned him if recovery of his diaphragm had not occurred within six months, then the impairment would likely be permanent.

The following year, in October 2017, Mr Connell was reviewed by neurosurgeon Dr Scott Campbell, who documented in his notes "the cervical spine root injections were ill advised and unnecessary".

"Recent nerve conduction studies revealed severe carpal tunnel syndrome to the left and moderate to the right," the documents read.

Last year in May, respiratory physician Dr Robert Edwards assessed the man and found the injections to the neck had resulted in a paralysed hemidiaphragm.

"(A)s a result of that, he is breathless walking 20-30 metres," the documents read.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said it would be inappropriate to comment with the matter before the courts.



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