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Claimant awarded £2m after requiring leg amputation following negligent knee replacement surgery

Fiona Mills, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells Office, has secured over £2 million for a client who required an above the knee leg amputation following negligence during her total knee replacement surgery.

The claimant is a 46 year old woman who was admitted for an elective left total knee replacement, at the advice of her consultant, following a year of recurrent pain and swelling of her knee joint. Prior to her surgery the consultant based at the private BMI Bishops Wood Hospital in Middlesex, had failed to adequately explain the risks associated with the knee replacement surgery to the claimant.

During surgery, at the time that the tourniquet was released, to allow the flow of blood to restart to the lower leg, the consultant noted that the popliteal artery was bleeding. He attempted to repair this with sutures.

Post-operatively the claimant had very little movement in her left foot and complained of discomfort and cramp. The pulses in her left leg were noted to be weak. Around 6-7 hours after surgery the pulse was no longer palpable (able to be felt) in the left lower leg.

The claimant was reviewed by the consultant, the anaesthetist and a vascular consultant during that time and pressure studies were requested. These tests were undertaken 10-11 hours after surgery. The claimant then underwent three compartment fasciotomy procedures (treatment for compartment syndrome where the fibrous bands that line the muscles are sliced open to allow the muscles to swell and to relieve pressure). However the claimant failed to regain a pulse or movement in her leg.

Two days after surgery the claimant was reviewed by the residential medical officer who found that her left foot was becoming colder, white and mottled in appearance. The treatment that was advised by her consultant was the use of a continual passive motion machine.

It was not until another two days later that an angiogram was undertaken which revealed that the popliteal artery was completely blocked from above the level of the knee joint to the origin of the anterior tibial artery. Surgical attempts to disburse the thrombi, which had blocked the artery, using an angioplasty balloon, failed, as well as surgical intervention. The claimant required an above-the-knee amputation.

After obtaining a number of expert opinions, including orthopaedic, vascular and care experts, we were able to obtain over £2 million compensation for the claimant to compensate her for the pain she suffered, but also her care needs for the rest of her life.

Fiona Mills specialises in orthopaedic and amputation cases. If you would like to ask a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any clinical negligence, please contact Fiona in confidence.