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Case Study: Failure to Diagnose Aneurysm Leads to Leg Amputation
JMW has won a £500,000 settlement for a man after doctors failed to diagnose aneurysm led to his leg being amputated.
Failure to examine
Bill’s ordeal began one morning when he developed a sudden severe pain in his left calf and foot. His foot was also cold to the touch. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and a triage nurse wrapped his leg in a blanket to warm it up.
Bill was then assessed by a senior house officer who made a preliminary diagnosis of peripheral artery disease. The doctor discussed Bill’s case with a more senior colleague who advised that the hospital’s vascular surgeons should be consulted. However when the doctor contacted one of the vascular surgeons at the hospital he was told that Bill’s leg problem was unlikely to be serious and was most probably cramp, despite not carrying out a physical examination himself.
Bill was then discharged home with advice to take a warm bath which he did. Nevertheless the significant pain in his calf persisted and the foot remained pale. Bill’s wife called an out of hours GP service and was initially advised to take pain relief. However two hours later his condition continued to deteriorate and the pain relief was not having any effect so the GP told him to go for a physical examination at the local hospital.
Too late to save leg
After being assessed he was admitted to hospital and a diagnosis of an acute blocked artery was made. An operation to treat the popliteal aneurysm that Bill was suffering from was not carried out until later the next day and by this point it was too late to prevent permanent damage from being caused. The blood supply to Bill’s leg had been restricted for too long and sadly it could not be saved and a few days later he underwent a below the knee amputation.
After contacting JMW for help, the appalling care Bill received was investigated and a case for negligence was brought against the hospital. JMW argued that it was unacceptable that Bill’s aneurysm was not diagnosed by the hospital when he first attended with his worrying symptoms and that the vascular surgeon failed to conduct a physical examination. JMW also discovered further delays and errors that meant Bill’s leg was not operated on in time and the combination of failings contributed to the eventual amputation.
JMW secures compensation
After JMW’s intervention the hospital trust made an admission of negligence and a compensation settlement of £500,000 was negotiated to cover the cost of specialist prosthetic legs, a house suitable for Bill’s disability and the other equipment and aids that he required to assist him in his day-to-day life.