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Boyes Turner’s amputation claims lawyers have secured a 75% liability settlement for a 63-year-old client who was left needing a below-knee amputation after negligent treatment of a post-surgical ankle infection. The strongly defended claim arose from the repeated failure of her GP and the district nurses to refer her back to hospital for treatment when her ankle showed signs of serious infection in the days following an operation on her ankle joint. The liability settlement means that our client can now go ahead with private medical treatment, including her amputation surgery and prosthetic care, funded by interim payments (advance payments of compensation). 

Signs of infection at the site of recent ankle surgery should have led to urgent referral back to hospital for treatment

Our client had a medical history of problems with her ankle. She had surgery on the ankle but then developed signs of infection including swelling, green pus and pain which prevented her putting weight on her foot, so she went to see her GP. Her past medical history and very recent surgery put her at increased risk of septic arthritis (infection in the joint). Correct treatment of her post-operative infection should have been to refer her to an orthopaedic surgeon at hospital. Instead, the GP failed to examine the wound or refer her to hospital and told her to see the district nurses for the wound to be re-dressed.

Later that day, our client saw the district nurse who re-dressed the wound and called the GP’s surgery to ask that antibiotics be prescribed. On receiving the request, the doctor prescribed the antibiotics, which our client started taking the same day. Our client’s symptoms did not improve with antibiotics and she continued to suffer from increasing amounts of green, discharging pus. She saw the district nurse and her wound was re-dressed on three more occasions over the next few days, but despite her ongoing signs of infection even after taking antibiotics, no action was taken by the district nurses to refer her back to her GP, or to a tissue viability nurse. 

The day after her fourth district nurse appointment, our client telephoned her GP and told him that she was no better. He prescribed a different antibiotic. Two days later, she went to the hospital where her ankle was examined, and she was diagnosed with septic arthritis. 

She needed numerous operations to try to eradicate the infection and stabilise the ankle, which had been damaged by the infection. She has pain and very poor function in the ankle and needs a below-knee amputation.

Earlier referral would have avoided multiple operations and amputation

We pursued our client’s claim for compensation against the GP and the NHS trust which employed the district nurses, on the basis that their negligent failure to refer our client to hospital delayed the treatment of her infection. If the GP or the district nurses had taken correct action to refer her, she would have received hospital treatment in time to eradicate the infection without the need for further surgery or amputation. 

The case was hard fought as the defendants, both with their own teams of lawyers and experts, strongly denied their liability for our client’s injuries. The GP refused to enter into any settlement discussions as he denied that our client had seen him at her appointment. The second defendant (responsible for the district nurses) had lost our client’s records. There were also differences of opinion between the experts on all sides, which the judge would have to decide upon at trial. These included how soon our client would have been treated in hospital and how much of her injury or additional surgery our client would have avoided if she had been properly referred at any of her appointments or phone calls with the GP or district nurses. 

The defendants’ joint liability (fault) for our client’s injuries was finally concluded with an agreed settlement which will guarantee our client 75% of the full value of her compensation claim. The liability judgment allows us to obtain interim payments to pay for our client’s private medical treatment, including amputation surgery and prosthetic care, and meet her essential needs arising from her injury, whilst we work with our experts to value the claim. 

If you have suffered or are expecting to undergo an amputation as a result of negligent medical care, you can find out more about making a claim by contacting us by email on mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.