Botched op victim pays for her own repair

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 12/04/2014
Jean Redman
JOHN COWPLAND/Fairfax NZ
TOO MUCH PAIN: Jean Redman takes morphine every day since a bungled operation three years ago, in which a replacement hip was fitted at the wrong angle.

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A faulty hip replacement has left Jean Redman in intense pain for three years. But Hawke's Bay Hospital refuses to put her on a waiting list to fix it.

ACC acknowledges her injury was caused by faulty surgery, and Hawke's Bay District Health Board accepts she would benefit from surgery - but it says she does not meet its threshold to be on a waiting list.

Meanwhile, her pain remains intense. She had a steroid injection in her spine on Monday, takes 16mg of slow-acting morphine twice a day, and 10mg of fast-release morphine three to four times a day.

Redman, 61, had her left knee replaced at Hawke's Bay Hospital in 2009.

The knee became infected and ultimately caused problems for her right hip. The surgeon who performed the knee operation decided she should have the hip replaced.

This was done in December 2010 - but the new hip was inserted incorrectly, at the wrong angle.

"As soon as I woke up after surgery, I had extreme pain," she said. "It's been painful ever since."

ACC acknowledged her injury had been caused by the surgery, and approved cover. It paid for her to see a specialist in Auckland last June. He advised her against having surgery, as he believed it could make the injury worse. She disagreed.

She had a series of outpatient appointments, a CT scan and an MRI, which showed she had a herniated disc, and she says she was led to believe she was on the elective surgery waiting list at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

Then, in December, she found out she was not. In a letter dated December 19, DHB chief executive Kevin Snee said she had been referred to the waiting list in August, but was declined in November.

"Whilst we acknowledge that Mrs Redman would benefit from surgery, unfortunately she did not meet the threshold for surgery at that time," Snee wrote.

Now, fed up with waiting, Redman and husband John have mortgaged their home in Napier and are flying to London to have the operation.

"We've sent the various scans etc and discussed the situation with [a neurosurgeon]. He said he couldn't believe how my condition had been so underplayed, or that I hadn't had surgery on the disc," Redman said.

"I know we needn't have gone to England, but we know this surgeon is good, and to be honest I'm really not sure I want to take the risk here again."

Her husband said: "We don't care that we'll be in hock for so much. We've got to get Jean fixed. We've spoken to this guy and we have faith in him."

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The couple, who emigrated from Britain 25 years ago, are due to arrive in London on May 8, and see the surgeon the following day.

The DHB said it was unaware Redman's ACC claim had been approved until being contacted yesterday by The Dominion Post.

Surgical services director Becky Olson said: "We had no paperwork indicating a treatment injury claim. If it was ever sent, we never got it, or it was never sent to us."

If the DHB had known ACC cover was approved, it would have approached the situation differently, Olson said.

Health Minister Tony Ryall referred questions to the DHB.

- The Dominion Post

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