£15,000 payout after dental op leaves Grimsby woman with permanent numbness
A WOMAN who has permanent facial numbness following complications during dental work has been awarded more than £15,000 in compensation.
Christina Knights, of Lambert Road, Grimsby, sued Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Trust and was awarded the out-of-court settlement after two nerves in her lower jaw were severed during an operation to remove her wisdom teeth.
The damage has left the 39-year-old's chin and lower lip without any feeling, which she says "no amount of money will now make up for".
She was awarded £15,250 from the trust, and has just under £11,500 after legal bills.
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The married mum-of-two told how her lip turns completely blue in the cold and, at times, she bites her lip without realising until it starts to bleed.
"I can be having a drink or eating food and without realising I am dribbling," she said.
"I am still young, so for this to be happening is awful.
"The numbness sometimes affects my speech as well. The worse thing is I know I am going to have this for the rest of my life."
In September 2008, Christina attended her dental surgery appointment at Grimsby's Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital.
She recalls being told that it was a straightforward procedure and that the risk of sustaining permanent nerve damage was one in thousands.
However, once surgery was complete, she soon realised something was not right when there was no feeling in her chin or lower lip.
She continued: "I spoke to the dentist about it, who said it was normal and that it could take up to six months for the feeling to return.
"I waited but nothing improved so when I brought it up again, I was told it could be up to two years for the numbness to go.
"I thought that enough was enough, and decided to get a second opinion."
Christina visited a specialist in Sheffield, who referred her for corrective surgery in January 2010.
Unfortunately this was unsuccessful and it was then that Christina was faced with the news that the damage was permanent.
She said: "I am still so angry and upset with it all; it has changed my life.
"Having no feeling in my lip and chin is something I doubt I will ever get used to.
"It is embarrassing when my children have to tell me to wipe my chin as I have food on it, or they tell me to speak properly because my speech is affected."
Evidence provided for Christina's lawyer, Daniel Kinnear, from the Dental Law Partnership, showed that the hospital had failed to review carefully an x-ray which demonstrated the root of the tooth ran very close to the nerve, increasing the risk of nerve damage.
Also, Christina was not made aware of alternative treatments, such as only removing the top of the tooth to relieve any discomfort and leaving the root in place.
"It is really upsetting to know that this could have been avoided," she said.
"I can only hope that someone will find a way of bringing my feeling back but I am very doubtful of that ever happening.
"I just have to move forward now and get on with things the best I can."
Wendy Booth, the trust's director of clinical and quality assurance, said: "The trust is pleased that an amicable settlement of the claim has been reached and wishes Christina Knights well for the future."