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Case Study: Blood Clot Mismanagement
Barry, 37 years old
Although 37-year-old Barry had had twinges in his right leg for some time he did not consult his GP until his foot suddenly became cold and numb. His GP referred him immediately to the hospital where an ultrasound scan revealed a clot in one of the large arteries of the leg (popliteal artery).
The clot was surgically removed, but the circulation to the foot did not improve so some days later a second exploration of the artery took place and another clot was removed. This operation was successful and Barry was discharged with a plan to receive a daily injection of heparin (anticoagulant) for 5 weeks to ensure that the clot did not form again.
Barry was given only 4 weeks of heparin to take home with him on the understanding that his GP would supply the drug for the extra week. He was also told that an appointment would be made for him at the anti-coagulant clinic for 5 weeks time.
When the heparin ran out after 4 weeks Barry went to see his GP to get some more but as the GP had heard nothing from the hospital he was unable to supply the drug. Barry rang the hospital to enquire about his appointment and was told that no appointment had been made.
6 weeks after discharge Barry’s foot suddenly became numb and painful and he returned to hospital where he underwent a 3rd operation, this time to create a bypass to the blocked artery.
The hospital apologised for the clerical errors and admitted that these had probably contributed to the re-clotting of the artery.
Before the development of the clot Barry considered himself to be relatively fit and healthy but now all physical activity is severely restricted and he can walk only short distances.
He is aware that his disability is partly due to the initial clotting of the leg artery and its subsequent treatment but be believes that his symptoms would be considerably less severe had the artery not clotted for the 3rd time and had he not had to undergo a 3rd operation.