Case Studies

Settlement achieved for damage to phrenic nerve during aortic valve replacement surgery


We have recently settled a claim against Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust for alleged damage caused to our 82 year old client’s left phrenic nerve during the course of aortic valve replacement surgery. The phrenic nerve controls the diaphragm muscle and is essential to the breathing process.

Our client underwent aortic valve replacement surgery in 2011 following a diagnosis of aortic stenosis. Ice slush was used in the procedure as a method of protecting the heart, an approach which our specialist clinical negligence team alleged was unnecessary and which carries with it a recognised risk of damage to the phrenic nerve. Our client was not informed that ice slush was to be used, and was not counselled as to the risks involved.

Following the operation, our client developed shortness of breath on exertion which she has been told will now be permanent. It appears that it is a result of paralysis to her left diaphragm muscle, caused by damage to her left phrenic nerve. She led an active lifestyle prior to the surgery and enjoyed cycling. However, following the surgery she has been unable to return to her hobby and struggles with any exertion.

The parties attended a mediation, and although liability was not admitted by the defendant, our offer to settle the claim was accepted. We are delighted to have achieved a good settlement for our client.


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Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP