An assistant social worker was forced to give up the job she loved after she received a medication overdose while she was in hospital for a hip operation.

The 60-year-old from Stockton on Tees, who does not wish to be named, has received £400,000 in damages after help from Thompsons Solicitors to claim compensation.

She was given an overdose of the powerful antibiotic Gentamicin intravenously while in North Tees Hospital for a routine hip operation. The drug is used to fight infection but extended use and high dosages can result in serious and permanent injury to the inner ear balance organ.

The mother of three was given the drug for over a month and is now virtually housebound. She likened her condition to having constant vertigo which impacts on every move she makes.

It has left her with problems of dizziness, difficulties in balancing and mobility.

No cure for condition which will get worse

There is no cure for the condition, which she has been told will get worse as she gets older.

She said: “Everyday life is unbearable at times. There are lots of things I just cannot do anymore. At times I’m virtually housebound and I rely on my children to support me.

“I’ve had to give up the job I loved. I had worked my way up the ranks to become an assistant social worker and I would still be working today had I been treated with Gentamicin correctly.”

“I decided to pursue compensation because I couldn’t believe that this mistake could be made and I wanted the hospital to make sure it never happened again.”

Hospital admitted liability

The client contacted Thompsons Solicitors which pursued a claim for compensation. North Tees Hospital admitted liability and has now updated its policy for treating patients with Gentamicin.

Janet Allan from Thompsons Solicitors’ Newcastle office clinical negligence team said: “Gentamicin may be harmless when used sparingly. However, it is a very potent antibiotic such that, when used inappropriately, can cause serious long term damage to the patient.

“It is the hospital’s responsibility to ensure that every member of staff prescribing this drug is aware of its potentially very serious side-effects if administered incorrectly and that they follow the strict guidelines to ensure patients are kept safe.”