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July 12th 2019

Medical Negligence

Amputee awarded £50,000 damages as hospital’s failure to provide blood-thinning medication led to development of DVT

Sarah Scully

Sarah Scully

Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

Amputee awarded £50,000 damages as hospital’s failure to provide blood-thinning medication led to development of DVT

SHORT SUMMARY A woman has been awarded £50,000 damages after a hospital failed to give her medication to prevent blood clotting when undergoing revision surgery on her amputated leg. She developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in her other leg, and has since been told by medical experts that it has increased the likelihood of her needing another amputation.

SHORT SUMMARY
A woman has been awarded £50,000 damages after a hospital failed to give her medication to prevent blood clotting when undergoing revision surgery on her amputated leg.
She developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in her other leg, and has since been told by medical experts that it has increased the likelihood of her needing another amputation.

FULL CASE STUDY
A hospital trust has agreed to pay £50,000 damages to an amputee after admitting failing to take appropriate measures to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) developing after undergoing surgery.

The woman patient, who was 54 at the time, has multiple sclerosis and family history of DVT and had been undergoing revision surgery on her right leg, which had she’d had amputated at the knee after being hit by a car some years earlier.

However, she was not given any blood-thinning medication post-surgery at Royal Preston Hospital, or when she was discharged home in April 2016.

Around a month later the woman, who was also on HRT medication at the time, began suffering from severe pain in her left calf and groin, with her leg swelling up also, making it impossible to continue walking on crutches.

She was in so much pain her husband called 999 and she was taken to A&E, where it was confirmed she had extensive DVT. When eventually discharged she was given a three month supply of medication to treat serious blood clots.

Now, following an investigation into her care led by Hudgell Solicitors, she has been told she is now at increased risk of suffering a recurrent DVT, and of developing a venous ulcer in her lower left leg, which also could require amputation in the future.

She has also been placed on lifelong medication at the recommendation of an independent medical expert instructed by Hudgell Solicitors to provide his opinion on her treatment.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust offered a £50,000 damages settlement, which has now been accepted by the patient.

Trust admitted ‘unfortunate episode of negligence’

The woman, from Burnley, Lancashire, says being told she may face a further amputation in later life was ‘devastating’.

“I’ve been left very annoyed by what happened but also very upset as this was supposed to be a relatively straight-forward procedure to improve the socket and prosthetic attachment on my right leg as I had some excess skin which had become floppy,” said the woman, now 56.

“It has now ended in me being told I am at greater risk of losing my lower left leg by experts, all because I wasn’t given the medication required to prevent blood clotting. It is devastating really.

“It was obvious I was at risk given that I am already an amputee, have multiple sclerosis and was on HRT at the time. I even asked why I wasn’t being given it myself as when I had the original amputation after my accident in 2013 I was given medication to take for three months. They were also made aware of my family history as my grandmother died of blood clotting.

“It has had a really big impact on me. Obviously my mobility was limited before this happened having already lost one leg, but I can’t walk on my crutches for as long any more as any period of time I put pressure on my left leg, either standing or sitting, I suffer swelling, which usually worsens as the day goes on. My husband has to do lots for me now.

“It aches every day and recent medical tests have shown that there is still blood clotting, so I am now on lifelong medication. It is really frustrating that this injury has been caused to my good leg by the most basic of mistake – a mistake I was making the medical professionals aware of at the time, but they simply ignored me.”

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that its care ‘fell below that which should have been expected’, describing it as ‘an unfortunate episode of negligence which caused deep venous thrombosis.’

Failures included not carrying out a complete blood clot risk assessment and failing to provide her with treatment to prevent blood clotting both during her stay in hospital and on discharge.

Errors were ‘most basic’ and ‘inexcusable’

Solicitor Sarah Scully, of Hudgell Solicitors, represented the woman in the legal case, and said the failings of the trust in April 2016 had not only caused avoidable short term suffering, leaving the woman bedbound for two weeks, but could also have significant long term health consequences.

She said: “We are glad that Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has made admissions in this case and agreed substantial damages, as independent medical experts consulted as part of the case were of the opinion that these errors in care could have further significant health consequences for our client, including further DVT and increased risk of amputation of her left leg.

“They were amongst the most basic errors in medical care, errors which were all the more inexcusable given our client not only had existing medical conditions which should have triggered extra concern with regard to possible development of DVT, but also given the fact she had explained her family’s medical history and expressed the need for medication herself.

“There was clearly an inadequate assessment made of the patient given she was not advised to stop taking her HRT medication, and a clear failure in care by not providing suitable medication post-surgery. This situation was completely avoidable.

“Our client was left bedbound for two weeks after the pain became unbearable as she couldn’t put any weight on her left leg at all. Her husband had to do everything for her, including giving her a bedpan when she wanted to go to the toilet and emptying it afterwards. She felt helpless as she could not get up at all.”

The woman, who now needs to wear a specialist custom made stocking on her left leg to further reduce her risk of a further DVT in the future, says she is saving her damages settlement for any future requirements she may have.

“The damages settlement can’t change what has happened to me but it can help me in the future should I need another prosthetic leg to replace my current one, or if I need a wet room as my mobility worsens,” she said.

“I can’t thank Hudgell Solicitors and Sarah Scully enough as they have been there for me and ensured the Trust made admissions as soon as possible. Hopefully the money will prove helpful for me in the future.”

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