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Your guide to limb amputation errors

Man running with a prosthetic leg - limb amputation error

When performed as a life-saving measure, amputation of a limb is still a traumatic, life-changing experience for anyone to go through.

But to discover that an amputation could have been avoided with a proper standard of medical treatment can have a severe psychological impact upon both the patient and their dependents.

If you or a member of your family have suffered an amputation that could have been prevented, you  will be trying to come to terms with the shock of what happened. This means seeking an explanation for how such an error was allowed to have taken place.

Empathy and understanding

As well as ‘wrong site’ amputation, clinical negligence may have occurred in a number of other ways, such as  a delay in a diagnosis or a failure to recognise severe infection.

Where a hospital  appears to have so badly failed in its duty of care... Your Legal Friend’s specialist legal knowledge and experience can offer much needed help to make your voice heard and a full explanation obtained.

Clinical negligence resulting  in amputation  requires  empathy and understanding by solicitors through out  the complex process of investigation and litigation.

The dedicated team of specialist solicitors at Your Legal Friend are experienced in successfully resolving many different types of clinical negligence cases. We can help you find out why things went wrong, and crucially, obtain justice and compensation to ensure present and future financial needs will be met to cover all necessary care, treatment, special equipment and support.

Insight...

  • Around 6,000 new patient referrals to the NHS are for the fitting of a  prosthetic limb following an amputation.
  • Around half of amputations are carried out on those aged 65 or over.
  • Twice as many males are amputees than women.                                                         (NHS National Amputation Statistical Database Annual Report
  • More than half of lower limb amputees had diabetes.

                 (Lower limb amputation, National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death – NCEPOD)

  • Nearly  half of all amputations are caused by nerve and circulatory problems, which  could have been prevented.
  • Two-thirds of all delays in lower limb amputations would have been avoided if surgery had been performed on a planned operating list.
  • Fewer than half of patients who needed leg amputation received good care because of a lack of communication between different disciplines and poor team working.
  • Nearly a quarter of patients who should have been given elective amputation, i.e. make the decision themselves, simply underwent emergency surgery.

 (National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death - NCEPOD, Nov 2014) 

What are the common causes of amputation?

Surgical error is not the only type of clinical negligence, which may have occurred.

The most common reason for an amputation is ischaemia - a loss of blood supply to the affected limb.

Failure to properly monitor any body tissue damage can lead to the rapid acceleration of infection, often requiring the amputation of the affected limb to prevent the spread of further damage to other parts of the body.

Common clinical negligence claims for amputation

Delay in diagnosis, misdiagnosis or the treatment of:

  • Limb cancer.
  • Gangrene.
  • Diabetic foot ulcer.
  • Peripheral oedema – soft-tissue swelling caused by excessive fluid accumulating, usually in the lower limbs.
  • Atherosclerosis – arteries blocked by cholesterol build up.

Failure to recognise

  • Ischaemia - insufficient supply of blood to a part of the body.
  • Severe infection.
  • Wrong site amputation.
  • Surgical error.
  • Excessive amputation.
  • Failure to effectively amputate severely infected tissue.
  • Incorrect fitting of prosthetics

Diabetes

Patients who suffer with diabetes are at particular risk of an amputated limb if their treatment isn’t properly managed. Irreversible complications can arise from a doctor or specialist who fails to reduce the risk of amputation or fails to provide the best possible course of treatment. 

  • Only one in eight patients with diabetes were admitted under the care of diabetes service.
  • Only six in ten patients with diabetes were reviewed by a diabetes nurse specialist prior to surgery.                    (National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death NCEPOD, Nov 2014).

One of the most potentially serious of complications to affect patients with diabetes can be the damage caused to the nerves and blood vessels, which often leads to foot ulcers and a decision to amputate.

  • Foot ulcers affect one in ten diabetics.
  • Around 50 per cent of all amputations conducted in the UK are carried out on people who have diabetes.

        (Diabetes.co.uk)

Cancer

Failure to make an early diagnosis of a cancer tumour or is simply misdiagnosed can also mean lead to a  high risk of amputation of the diseased  organ. The affected area may need to be removed to prevent  a malignant tumour very quickly spreading to adjacent parts of the body. 

How Your Legal Friend can help you..

The severe psychological devastation caused to a patient and their family trying to come to terms with the loss of a limb that could have been prevented can also be grounds for claiming clinical negligence.

No amount of compensation will be able to reverse the suffering and stress caused when something goes wrong during an operation or an injury is not properly diagnosed or treated.

However, it is likely that vital support, care, specialist equipment and even modifications to the home will be needed to ensure the best quality of life can be obtained for a victim of an amputated limb.

There can often be an enormous emotional hurdle to overcome before even taking the decision to seek legal advice.

As experienced clinical negligence specialists, we know that families need to find answers and the people responsible are held to account. We can help you find out “why the system has failed you and what went wrong.”

From the first time we discuss the special circumstances of your case, Your Legal Friend is committed to ensuring we obtain the maximum compensation for our clients.

We are committed to ensuring you are able to make your case, obtain answers and receive  compensation to secure present and future care needs, including special equipment needed for daily activities and any costs involved in adapting your home.