The number of amputations performed in England and Wales each year due to an error or omission by a medical professional is very small, but they do happen and the consequences are physically and mentally devastating.
If a person suspects that a medical mistake or poor care may have been the cause of their amputation then they should find out about their legal rights as soon as possible.
How do I know if I can claim compensation if I have lost a limb?
The simple answer is to pick up a phone and call a specialist medical negligence solicitor with proven experience in helping people with amputations. It is important to speak to an expert clinical negligence lawyer as soon as possible because there are strict time limits on bringing a civil claim for compensation.
Susan Liver, Partner and Clinical Negligence Specialist Solicitor, says: “Unfortunately, an amputation can be due to clinical negligence. For example, a delay in diagnosis, failure to diagnose or treat an infection or deep-vein thrombosis.
“Although rare, compensation for an amputation due to inadequate medical care is something I’ve increasing experience of. We aim to give the injured person the best chance of making the most of life after the negligence, which regularly requires us to claim a seven-figure sums provided the expert evidence secured supports this level of value.”
Susan and Birchall Blackburn Law offers free and confidential initial advice, so use us and talk to our specialist solicitors about what has happened to you. You won’t be out of pocket.
What are common medical errors or omissions that can lead to amputation?
There are many different medical reasons for the need for an amputation. In most cases it is a lifesaving operation that is required because tissues within the body are damaged/infected beyond repair and this puts the rest of the body at risk. Many amputations are caused by circulatory problems and nerve damage, which could have been prevented with proper and timely medical treatment.
Below are some of the conditions and medical errors or omissions that can lead to an amputation, and possibly a claim for medical negligence compensation.
Poor treatment and care of diabetes
Diabetes is a long-term health condition that causes abnormal blood sugar levels, which can impact on the body’s metabolism. The condition can reduce the blood supply to the body’s extremities and damage the nerves and blood vessels, especially in the hands and feet. The condition means infection can be difficult to treat and must be carefully managed by doctors.
Due to the nerve damage and the loss of sensation in those areas of the body, injuries and damage such as infections and ulcers can worsen if the patient does not receive proper care and monitoring by the appropriate doctors.
Early diagnosis and treatment is key to avoiding complications and ultimately the need for any kind of amputation. If a diabetic patient requires a foot amputation as a result of poor medical care, delays in diagnosis or delays in treatment, then they may have a case for medical negligence compensation.
Figures show that 8,500 amputations were carried out in 2016 as a result of diabetes alone. Public Health England suggests that there are 23 amputation procedures carried out a day on people diagnosed with diabetes and there has been a 16 per cent rise between 2013 and 2016 when compared to the previous three years.
Delay in diagnosing serious disease and infections
There are many diseases and infections that need prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent them from developing into something serious enough to require amputation. If diagnosis or treatment is delayed through medical error or omission then there may be a case for medical negligence compensation.
Serious diseases and infections that can lead to amputation if medical treatment is not to a good standard include meningitis, skin infections such as necrotising fasciitis, and infections of the bone like osteomyelitis.
Sepsis, amputation and medical negligence
Sepsis is when the body’s response to infection is life-threatening. The condition is caused when the immune system over responds to infection and it can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and the need for amputation.
The body can start to shut down organs, which causes blood clots and blocks the flow of blood to the limbs. When blood vessels restrict the flow of oxygen and vital nutrients to the hands and feet, the tissues die. In serious cases the limbs must be amputated.
Early diagnosis and quick treatment are vital if a person is to recover from sepsis. More information about the sepsis and the symptoms to look out for can be found here.
Compartment syndrome, amputation and medical negligence
Acute compartment syndrome is a serious medical condition that requires immediate diagnosis and medical care. It needs to be treated in the early stages of its development or extensive tissue death can occur. The dead tissue may have to be removed causing deformity, restricted movement or paralysis, and in some cases amputation is required.
It can occur without any obvious injury but the condition is usually caused by a broken bone or a crush injury, burns that cause the skin to tighten, swelling following surgery to repair a damaged or blocked blood vessel, a bandage or plaster cast applied too tightly or before swelling has stopped following initial injury.
Read more about compartment syndrome here.
Amputation of the wrong limb
Although it is extremely rare, it is not unknown for the wrong limb to be amputated or for an amputation to be found to have been unnecessary.
Such ‘wrong-site’ and ‘wrong procedure’ errors are classed as ‘never events’ because they are errors that should never occur and indicate a serious underlying safety problem within the medical unit.
Amputation experience within Birchall Blackburn Law
Our clinical negligence team has decades of experience helping hundreds of people who have been through the trauma of an amputation. Our experience means we understand the immense physical and psychological impact of an amputation and the profound effect it has on the person, and their family and friends. We are dedicated to securing the best possible outcome for the people we help so they can go on to live a fulfilling life.
We act for clients on a nationwide basis.
If you wish to discuss compensation for an amputation, a potential clinical negligence claim or any legal aspect to personal injury do not hesitate to contact Susan Liver on 01772 552278 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Initial advice is free, confidential and with no obligations.