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Written on 21st May 2020

A 94 year old man had to have an above-knee amputation after developing a pressure sore whilst in hospital which later led to a bone infection. He lost his independence and sadly died shortly after moving to a hospice.

He was admitted to hospital in September 2008. He had a history of venous ulcers to his legs, which had always been managed by the district nurses. At the time of his admission, he had one small ulcer on his right leg which was healing. However, the hospital did not maintain the same level of care as the District Nurses and in particular, the dressing of the wound was carried out differently. Whilst in hospital he developed an additional pressure sore on his right heel but was discharged home with care to be continued by the District Nurses.

Whilst at home, the pressure sore on his right heel became infected. The District Nurses were unable to control the infection and he had to be readmitted to hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital discovered osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) and he had to undergo an above-knee amputation as a result.

Subsequently, he was transferred to a hospice as he was no longer able to manage independently at home. He sadly died just under three months later. It was not established whether his death was caused by the amputation.

Relatives, as executors of the estate, brought a negligence claim against the hospital. Medical evidence from a nursing expert showed that, if the man had been adequately treated by the hospital, the additional pressure sore on his right heel would never have developed and he therefore would not have required the above-knee amputation. Negotiations concluded with the NHS Trust paying £65,000 compensation.