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Written on 28th June 2020 by Julie Marsh

Our amputation claims team have secured an admission of liability, an apology and £50,000 interim payment for a young woman who needed Lisfranc (through-foot) amputations after an ambulance crew failed to take her to hospital for treatment of suspected meningitis.

Signs of meningitis were ignored by the ambulance crew

The 18-year-old young woman became unwell during the day with vomiting and a severe headache. Late that evening, her mother called NHS 111 and told them that her daughter’s symptoms included a pounding headache, vomiting, muscle pain, photophobia (extreme sensitivity to light) and a stiff neck.

NHS 111 called for an ambulance but when it didn’t arrive our client’s mother called NHS 111 again and was told to redial 999. When the ambulance arrived, the crew negligently failed to suspect that our client was suffering from meningitis and take her to hospital given her symptoms, which at that time included photophobia and a stiff neck. Instead of taking her to hospital for urgent admission and intravenous (IV) antibiotics, they advised paracetamol and increased fluids. If they had taken her to hospital that night, she would have been admitted and treated for suspected meningococcal sepsis with intravenous antibiotics. With correct treatment she would have made a full recovery without any long-term disability.

The next morning our client was still unwell and her mother went to the GP surgery to make an appointment with a doctor. On returning home, she found her daughter had a small purple blemish on her neck which didn’t disappear when pressed with a glass. She called 999 and an ambulance arrived. Our client was taken to hospital and given antibiotics in the ambulance whilst on the way. On arrival she was found to have meningococcal sepsis and she was given IV antibiotics. She was admitted to ITU and had a prolonged stay in hospital whilst undergoing treatment.

As a result of the first ambulance crew’s negligence, the delay in treating our client’s meningitis led to meningococcal sepsis (septic shock from meningitis B), multi-organ failure, respiratory problems and cardiac arrest. She required Lisfranc (through-foot) amputations from the lack of perfusion (blood flow) to her feet. Since leaving hospital she has undergone repeated further surgery to her lower limbs and remains at risk of further amputation.

Ambulance trust admission of liability and interim payment

When our client contacted us and asked us to pursue a medical negligence claim, we investigated her treatment and put her claim for compensation to the defendant NHS ambulance trust. The defendant responded by admitting liability for our client’s amputations and giving our client a written apology.

An interim payment of £50,000 has been agreed to ease our client’s financial hardship and meet her immediate needs arising from her disability whilst she continues to undergo surgical treatment. Meanwhile we are working with our experts to assess the full extent and impact of her lifelong disability and the value of her claim to enable us to negotiate a compensation settlement.

If you or a member of your family have suffered amputation or other serious injury from negligent delays in meningitis treatment, contact us by email at