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Case Study

Settlement following repeated misdiagnosis resulting in above-knee amputation

Caron Heyes and Jamie Green acted for client Mrs Henry leading to a seven-figure settlement following delays in diagnosing and treating her acutely ischaemic leg at Hereford County Hospital and, later, Worcestershire Acute Hospital. As a result of negligent delays and surgical treatment she had to have an above-knee amputation, which has changed her life forever.

Her claim began when she began to suffer from a painful skin patch at the end of her big right toe, which had turned purple. She went to see her GP who advised her to return if her toe got worse. Her condition deteriorated and she called her GP again who arranged an X-ray of her foot, which came back as normal. The GP referred her to an orthopaedic foot surgeon who arranged for an MRI of her foot, which again was normal. Despite this, the pain and discolouration in her toe remained and spread to the rest of her foot.

A week later, Mrs Henry called the local 111 service reporting worsening pain and discolouration in her calf. She was advised to speak to her private orthopaedic foot surgeon whom she was due to see the following day. She was then referred to a private vascular surgeon. He noted that there could be a problem involving arterial flow below her knee and referred her for an ultrasound to rule out a DVT.

Three days later, Mrs Henry attended an appointment to have some bloods taken at Hereford County Hospital. Her ability to walk deteriorated so much during the appointment due to acute pain that the phlebotomist advised her to go to A&E. She had to be taken there by wheelchair because she was unable to walk due to pain in her leg. She was diagnosed with a possible DVT and prescribed blood-thinning medication. No thought was given to a more sinister cause of Mrs Henry's considerable pain and discolouration. In fact she needed an urgent review by the vascular team and action to restore circulation.

Mrs Henry's condition continued to deteriorate and she was admitted under the Vascular team at Worcestershire Acute Hospital a week later. The next day, she had an ultrasound scan which confirmed occlusion in her left leg. The plan was for surgery the following day. Her blood thinning medication was stopped early the next morning in preparation for morning surgery, however surgery was delayed to the late afternoon and the heparin was not restarted in the meantime. This meant that she was not appropriately heparinised before surgery.

At the start of surgery, she was not given the appropriate bolus of blood thinning medication required to ensure there was adequate blood flow. As a result, the surgery was unsuccessful. Despite this, a trial of conservative treatment with only blood-thinning medication was attempted over the next three days. This failed and a further clot formed, until Mrs Henry's lower left leg was no longer viable. She required an above-the-knee amputation a week later.

Mrs Henry's life has drastically changed because of her injuries. She has had to widely adapt her home and to buy various equipment to help her manage. Daily actions taken for granted on two legs have become very challenging when trying to do them using a prosthesis and/or a wheelchair. She has shown incredible determination to overcome those challenges and continue to work and live a fulfilling life with her family.

Mrs Henry instructed Caron and Jamie to investigate her claim. They instructed experts in A&E medicine, vascular surgery, anaesthesia and haematology who concluded that the treatment provided by both the A&E and vascular surgery teams was negligent and, but for the treatment provided, she would have avoided the above-knee amputation on the balance of probabilities. The claim, brought against two separate Trusts, was heavily defended.

Shortly before the liability only trial, Caron and Jamie were able to negotiate a seven-figure settlement for Mrs Henry. This will allow her to purchase appropriate accommodation, hire a carer and to access appropriate therapies and equipment to maximise her recovery.

At the end of the claim, Mrs Henry said:

"Although the process is quite long winded, and sometimes stressful, I feel now that we have answers as to how I lost my leg. I can now move on, find a more suitable property to live in and buy in some extra care and rehabilitation that, up to now, I have been unable to use.

Living with an above-the-knee amputation has been tricky, but we have been helped along the way by Caron and Jamie who offered advice and support where needed. Even when my husband became severely ill and had to be cross-examined before trial, we never felt under pressure and were dealt with in a caring and supportive way.

I am extremely grateful for all the help and expertise I have received and would highly recommend Caron, Jamie and Fieldfisher to anyone in a similar predicament"

Caron and Jamie commented: "It has been a privilege to work with Mrs Henry and her family to achieve settlement and to witness their courage and love for each other, which continues to support them through the tragedy of her injuries."

Contact us

For further information about delayed diagnosis claims and amputation claims, please call Caron Heyes on 020 7861 4062 or email caron.heyes@fieldfisher.com, or call Jamie Green on 020 7861 4061 or email jamie.green@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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