A care worker who attended an NHS Urgent Treatment Centre in Hull complaining of an infection in his finger had to have it amputated five days later due to a lack of care.
A successful medical negligence case was brought against City Healthcare Partnership which, in an out of court settlement, admitted liability and a compensation award for damages was agreed.
Alan Blakey, who works in a children’s home, attended the centre in Bransholme in January 2019 when his finger become swollen after he had removed a splinter that had been lodged in the skin for around four days previously.
Mr Blakey, who was 49 at the time, had the infected area cleaned and dressed and was prescribed the antibiotic Flucloxacillin before being told to return in three days to have the infection reviewed.
On the morning of his next visit to the centre run by Hull’s City Healthcare Partnership he removed the dressing as the finger had become increasingly painful and swollen.
When he was seen, he told staff he was concerned about the blister that had formed on the little finger of his left hand.
It was recorded that his temperature and heartbeat were raised but health workers believed he had only “a superficial injury” and the blister was drained and dressed. Mr Blakey, a diabetic, was told to return in another three days.
‘I already knew I had poison going up my arm’
However, later that evening he went to Hull Royal Infirmary’s Accident and Emergency Department and was diagnosed with cellulitis, an infection of the deeper layers of skin and underlying tissue. If not treated promptly the infection can spread through the body and be life threatening.
“By the time I went to A&E I already knew I had poison going up my arm. There was tracking, a red line about an inch wide which went up to my armpit from my hand. I also had swelling the size of a golf ball inside my elbow, it was really concerning,” he recalled.
At the hospital Mr Blakey was noted to have an infection from his hand spreading up to his shoulder. He was seen by a hand surgeon the next day and plans were made for surgery to open-up the finger and drain the infection and he was also hooked up to intravenous antibiotics.
“By then my finger had turned green, it was rock solid and I was in a lot of pain,” he said.
However, surgery found that an area of the finger tissue was already dead and an amputation was carried out a few days later.
“The procedure didn’t work, you could see the finger was black and had died. When I was told it needed to be amputated, well, there was shock, but at that stage you think, ‘well there’s nothing more that can be done’ and you have to go with it.”
Four years on from the amputation Mr Blakey, who can no longer play for his five-a-side football team, still suffers pain and discomfort and will need further surgery to remove nerve endings from the remainder of his finger.
After contacting Hudgell Solicitors for legal advice a medical negligence claim was brought against City Healthcare Partnership, which runs Bransholme Urgent Treatment Centre, alleging a breach of duty of care.
“I took legal advice not long after I came home from hospital because there were things that had stuck in my mind. One, was when I was at the clinic it was mentioned whether I should be sent to A&E, but it was taken no further.
“Maybe it was because they knew A&E was not coping and they were trying to relieve the pressure. But that doesn’t always work out right, and as it transpires, I lost my finger.
“Then when I was in hospital, staff there even questioned the treatment I’d received. I went from being a healthy person to losing my finger in a week.”
Mr Blakey, who also had to give up playing golf, said he now experiences “electric shocks” if he knocks his left hand and can no longer do simple DIY jobs.
He was represented in his claim by Hudgells’ charted legal executive Helena Wood who has many years’ experience of bringing successful medical negligence cases.
“We believed there was a breach of duty at the health centre, first, because staff failed to act on my client presenting with a high temperature and a raised heartbeat along with his infection.
“This should have indicated the seriousness of the medical situation and the need for him to be referred to hospital as soon as possible. However, no referral was made, instead he was asked to return to the health centre in a further three days.
“Fortunately, my client made the decision to go to the Accident and Emergency Department himself later that day, but nevertheless this still resulted in an avoidable delay of intravenous antibiotics being given and a procedure to clean out the wound being carried out.
“If those delays had not happened, on the balance of probabilities, he would not have lost his finger. I am pleased for my client that this was settled out of court and CHP has admitted that he received substandard treatment.
“It has had a profound effect on his life and his work, and he will now need further surgery.”
Mr Blakey said he had felt “fully supported” throughout the legal claim by the medical negligence team at Hudgell Solicitors.
What is medical negligence?
No matter how high the standards of care and treatment in our health services, things can sometimes go wrong.
Medical negligence occurs if you receive substandard treatment by a medical professional, whether that’s directly causing an injury, or making an injury or condition worse. Medical negligence can also happen if you are misdiagnosed, receive the wrong treatment, or a mistake is made during surgery.
Making a Medical Negligence Claim
Our medical negligence solicitors are here to help you start a claim if you feel you’ve received substandard medical treatment.
We understand that no amount of medical negligence compensation can change what you’ve been through, but it can help to relieve financial pressures caused, such as by medical bills or the loss of earnings, helping you to move forward with your life.
You can begin by contacting us via our claim form and selecting Medical Negligence as the type of claim.