Medical Mistake Claims - Simpson Millar LLP

Failure to diagnose compartment syndrome leads to leg amputation and a £700,000 claim against Dudley Hospitals Trust

Dudley man has been awarded compensation of £700,000 after a hospital's failure to diagnose 'compartment syndrome', which led to a right above knee amputation.

In September 2008 our client was referred to the Department of Vascular Surgery at Russells Hall Hospital for disabling pain when walking, with pain in the left calf and buttock. He was subsequently diagnosed with an occlusive disease of his abdominal left iliac artery.

An angiogram revealed a blockage or narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to his leg. Our client was informed that he would need to undergo surgery to improve the blood supply which would improve the pain in his legs when walking. Our client was admitted to the hospital for the procedure.

At the end of the 6.5hr procedure, surgeons noted that our client could not feel or move his right leg, which was pale and cold with no pulse.

The same findings were noted just over 3 hours later and an anti-coagulant was administered, but with no further surgical intervention that evening.

Early the next morning, a surgeon noted that our client’s right foot was pale, pulseless and painful, with reduced feeling and a painful swelling in the right thigh. Shortly afterwards our client was seen by a surgical specialist registrar, who suspected 'compartment syndrome': a serious condition involving increased pressure in a muscle compartment which can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow.

Our client was urgently returned to theatre for surgery to release the pressure from the muscle compartments and exploration of the graft.

Despite this and a further 10 surgical procedures over the course of the next 4 months, there was no improvement and as a result of the extreme pain suffered by our client the decision was taken to amputate his right leg above his knee.

Because of the prolonged, painful and distressing treatment which had caused him to lose a leg, the patient instructed Simpson Millar to pursue a claim of negligence on the part of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust.

The hospital had failed to discuss with our client his treatment options and, in particular, had failed to offer appropriate treatment for the original blockage.

The defendant had also carried out a crossover graft that should only have been considered for more extensive disease, and failed to avoid irreversible nerve and muscle injury, associated renal and cardiac injury and the eventual amputation of the leg.

Today, our client continues to suffer 'phantom' pain, and has difficulty transferring from crutches to the heavy prosthetic with which he has been fitted. He also needs to take long-term medication for the pain.

The defendant admitted that it had negligently failed to arrange for our client to undergo further surgical intervention after the initial graft, and that had they done so our client would have avoided the ensuing injuries and need for amputation.

For the needless pain and suffering caused, and the lifelong torment of losing his leg, settlement was agreed at £700,000 compensation.

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