Family Of Leamington teenager left struggling to walk after delay In diagnosis raises awareness of the hip condition she has

The family of a Warwickshire teenager are speaking out to raise awareness of a hip condition which has left her struggling to walk following a delay in diagnosis.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 10:15 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 10:16 am
Josephine George

Josephine George, from Leamington, was 11 when she visited her GP complaining of pain in her left knee and hip.

At the time, she was diagnosed with a tear in her thigh muscles.

She struggled with ongoing pain for months before she was given an x-ray, which showed she was suffering from a condition known as slipped upper femoral epiphysis (SUFE).

Josephine George

This is described as a break in the ball joint of the hip, resulting in the thigh bone slipping out of the socket and twisting outwards.

Josephine underwent surgery twice but continues to suffer with pain and mobility issues and further treatment is awaited.

Her family instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, and whether her condition should have been diagnosed sooner.

The NHS Trusts admitted a breach in Josephine’s care after examinations were confirmed to have been inadequate.

It was further admitted that had Josephine been fully assessed during these attendances, she would have been referred for urgent investigations, including an x-ray, and a SUFE would have been diagnosed.

As a result, she “suffered avoidable pain and suffering that would have been avoided with earlier treatment” the trusts said.

The trusts have now agreed an interim payment which Josephine’s family intend to use to seek private treatment as she awaits further surgery.

Jade Elliott-Archer, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Josephine and her family, said: “The past few years have been incredibly difficult for Josephine, firstly being diagnosed with SUFE at such a young age and then finding out that it should have been discovered sooner.

“She now has to live with ongoing pain and struggles with any activity, including walking.

“While we appreciate the admissions from the NHS Trusts we urge that lessons are learned so others don’t have to go through what Josephine has.”

Josephine began to feel pain in her left knee and hip after taking part in sporting activities. Her GP initially diagnosed a thigh muscle tear. She was referred to a physiotherapist and advised to use Deep Heat.

The following month, Josephine attended a physiotherapy appointment. Three days later, she collapsed in pain and was unable to stand or walk. She attended A&E where the diagnosis of a tear was reinforced.

In May 2017, she returned to A&E on the advice of her physiotherapist.

She underwent an x-ray and SUFE was diagnosed.

Josephine’s leg was immediately immobilised and she underwent surgery the following day.

Following the surgery, Josephine struggled to weight-bear on her left leg and required crutches when walking.

She suffered from pain in her back and knee and continued to walk with a limp.

In July 2018, Josephine underwent further surgery in the form of an osteoplasty which altered the shape of her hip.

Sadly, this surgery did not significantly improve Josephine’s condition and a further osteotomy/osteoplasty has been recommended.

It was initially hoped that this surgery would go ahead in around April 2020, however this has been put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Josephine, now aged 15, lives with her Mum, Rachel George and her older brother.

Once a very active youngster, she is now limited in what she can do.

Her mother Rachel said: “The last few years have been incredibly upsetting for us all and Josephine has had to endure so much unnecessary pain and suffering.

“It took so long for us to get the correct diagnosis and then it was followed by surgery and the osteoplasty.

"There are concerns whether her condition could possibly lead to early onset osteoarthritis, calluses in her hip joint and wearing away of her bone.

"We have been told that if the planned surgery is not successful, Josephine could require a hip replacement in her 20s which is a very scary thought.

“It is all very difficult for Josephine to comprehend.

"She is still so young and used to be a very active and sporty girl before this happened.

"She has even changed her job aspirations as she will not be able to work in certain professions due to her condition.

“It’s really hard for us to see her struggle, and we support her as much as we can.

"We are pleased that the hospital trusts have admitted their failings, but it doesn’t change what our daughter has gone through and to find out it could have been avoided is not easy to accept.

“All we can hope for now is that our story makes others aware of the symptoms of SUFE and that lessons are learned so other families don’t have to suffer like we have.”

A spokesperson from South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust said: “On behalf on the Trust we would like to sincerely apologise to Josephine.

"We are working with her solicitors to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”