Growing number of patients having limb amputated due to poor care

16th March 2021 Clinical Negligence

Having a limb amputated after a catalogue of failures by the very medical professionals who were supposed to make you better is a traumatic and life-changing experience. It should be a rare event that can easily be prevented with the right safety checks and by following guidelines. However, the number of limb amputations caused by medical negligence is on the rise.

Official figures obtained by JMW’s medical negligence team show that in the financial year 2018/19 there were 122 NHS patients who were awarded compensation after having a limb amputated due to failures in their care.

That’s a 75 per cent rise in the last 10 years and represents more than 10 patients a month. The disabilities they have been left with affect not only their family life, with loved-ones often needing to take on the role of their carer, but also their ability to work and participate in social occasions.

The data obtained by JMW from NHS Resolution, the organisation responsible for claims against the NHS, under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that three hospital trusts had more successful amputations cases brought against them than any other in the country.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals each paid compensation to 20 patients, potentially showing that lessons had not been learned.

I have successfully represented a man who suffered an above the knee leg amputation after doctors failed to treat a condition that was severely restricting the blood flow to the leg. More information about this case can be found here. The key failure in this case was the lack of urgency in treating an issue that posed a very real threat to the patient’s leg.

This was also the main concern in other cases our team has handled and comes down to a lack of competency in the diagnosis of infections and other serious conditions and the failure to follow guidelines.

While the majority of doctors are able to provide the correct standard of care in these scenarios, hospitals need to look at why the system sometimes fails and improve safety-netting. In a modern day health service we should not be seeing escalating numbers of patients having limbs amputated due to poor care and this is a trend that needs to be reversed.

 

 

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Nicholas Young is a Senior Associate Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Clinical Negligence department

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