More than 80,000 hip replacements are carried out in the UK every year, according to NHS figures. The vast majority of these procedures are carried out without mishap; but mistakes during or after surgery can and do happen.

Jane Couch, a medical negligence law solicitor at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot explains how hip replacement complications can arise and she outlines how you might go about claiming compensation if your hip replacement goes wrong.

A hip replacement is a common form of surgery which involves replacing a damaged hip joint with an artificial implant. Adults of any age may require a hip replacement, although they are most commonly performed on those aged between 60 and 80.

A hip implant is usually needed when the hip joint is so worn or damaged that your mobility is reduced and you experience pain even while resting. Common reasons for hip replacement surgery include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hip fracture, septic arthritis and disorders that cause unusual bone growth (bone dysplasias).

While a hip replacement surgery will usually significantly reduce pain and improve the range of movement, complications that can arise include:

  • fracturing of the femur or thigh bone when the surgeon attaches the hip implant;
  • an implant of the wrong size is fitted;
  • incorrect positioning of the implant;
  • foot drop caused by nerve damage;
  • nerve damage resulting from compression by retractors used during surgery;
  • nerve, blood vessel, or tissue injuries caused by negligently used scalpels or other surgical instruments;
  • infection or blood clots setting in which are not diagnosed and treated properly;
  • hip dislocation;
  • a difference in leg lengths.

Problems can also arise if your surgeon failed to properly explain the risks of the procedure to you, did not carry out adequate checks or tests before surgery to ensure you are suitable for a hip replacement, or did not consider other less intrusive forms of treatment.

All medical professionals have a legal duty to provide a reasonable standard of care when treating you. If they breach this duty of care and you are injured or your condition worsens as a result, you may have grounds for a clinical negligence claim.

The primary test used to establish whether there has been a breach of professional duty is that laid out in Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee (1957). To satisfy this, a medical professional must show they acted in a way that a responsible body of medical professionals in the same field would regard as acceptable.

How our solicitors can help

If you want to claim compensation for an unsuccessful hip replacement, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. A specialist medical negligence lawyer can guide you through the claim process, helping to gather the evidence you need – such as witness statements and medical reports – to support and strengthen your claim.

They will also refer you to a medical expert who will assess the effect the accident has had on your life, help secure the care and rehabilitation needed to accelerate your recovery, work hard to win you an out of court settlement you deserve, or speak on your behalf if your case goes to court.

The compensation you will receive will depend on the seriousness of your injuries and your long-term prognosis, but could include damages for:

  • pain and suffering;
  • loss of earnings;
  • additional medical treatment or rehabilitation;
  • out-of-pocket expenses such as aids and equipment purchased or care/help and assistance costs both past and future;
  • adaptations required to your home.

For more information on claiming compensation for hip replacement negligence, or any other personal injury issue, contact Jane Couch at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot on 01626 202413 or email

WBW has offices in TorquayPaigntonNewton AbbotExeterBovey Tracey,  Exmouth,  Honiton,  Sidmouth,  Launceston,  AxminsterChard and Seaton.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.