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Case Study

Cancer survivor loses leg after doctor fails to recognise vascular complications

Mick's dream for retirement had always been an American motorbike tour of Route 66. This sadly became an impossibility, however, when his doctor negligently missed a dangerous side effect of his chemotherapy.

Mick was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in September 2014, having just received the all clear from prostate cancer earlier that year. He was treated for his oesophageal cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital, where he received ECX chemotherapy.

Shortly after the first round of chemotherapy, Mick began to notice a strange tingling in his left foot. He was not overly concerned initially, putting it down to one of the many minor side effects of his treatment.  He decided to raise the matter at a follow-up appointment however, after a friend pointed out that his big toe had turned blue. Mick described the discolouration to the doctor, as well as the cold and tingling sensation. The doctor did not examine his foot, but told him to return in two days for the second round of chemotherapy. Mick was reassured.

In fact, Mick's symptoms were a sign that the blood supply to his leg was compromised. Within days of the second chemotherapy treatment, he was in such excruciating pain that he presented at A&E. By this stage, his left foot had a blotchy and bruise-like appearance. A stent operation was performed in an attempt to restore the blood supply, but unfortunately, this was unsuccessful and Mick's leg had to be amputated above the knee.

Prior to the negligence, Mick worked full time as toolmaker for over 30 years. He enjoyed an active lifestyle, including swimming, maintaining motor vehicles, and frequent walking holidays with his wife and dogs. Fortunately, following his amputation, Mick went on to successfully complete cancer treatment. However, his life has been permanently, and avoidably, altered due to the doctor's error.

Mick now requires a great deal of assistance with basic daily tasks. He struggles with dressing and washing independently and is frequently kept awake at night by phantom pain. Mick loves his job and so has returned part time, despite finding it physically exhausting. The situation has inevitably taken an emotional toll.

Jonathan Zimmern and Jamie Green assisted Mick in bringing a claim against the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust initially denied liability, but later settled the claim for £1.4m. This sum will ensure that Mick has access to the therapies, prosthetics, and other equipment that he requires. It will also cover his reduction in earnings and the cost of making his home suitable for his needs. 

Following the settlement, Mick's wife wrote to Jonathan saying, "Mick and I would just like to say a big thank you to yourself and Jamie for all the hard work you’ve both done to get us such a fantastic settlement we could never have done it without you".