Clinical Negligence

Failure to treat diabetic foot ulcer leads to below knee amputation

Jenny Waight, specialist clinical negligence lawyer acting for the claimant successfully obtained a settlement of £150,000 to compensate the claimant for their pain and suffering.

The claimant was a type 1 diabetic with a history of poor glycaemic control and diabetic foot ulcers.

He developed a new left heel ulcer and attended his GP who duly referred him to Tunbridge Wells Hospital for review.  He attended the hospital but was considered too well for admission and discharged with a plan for ultrasound Doppler scan the next day to rule out DVT, oral antibiotics and planned referral to the diabetic team.

No further action was taken and no referral was made to the diabetic team.

The claimant attended the next day for the scan as instructed which confirmed no DVT.

The claimant finished the course of antibiotics and attended his GP again, 11 days later with increased pain, swelling and inflammation to the foot.  He was again referred to hospital where infected diabetic foot ulcer was diagnosed.  An x-ray was performed which ruled out osteomyelitis (bone infection) and he was referred the acute medical unit for IV antibiotics and a plan to return for the next two days for further antibiotics.

Two days later, the claimant attended a planned routine diabetic clinic review.  Concerns were raised with the left foot ulcer and he was referred back to hospital and this time admitted for surgical review.  He was administered IV antibiotics and underwent surgical debridement which revealed a large, deep necrotic ulcer.  All necrotic tissue was excised leaving an 8x6cm defect to the foot.

He remained in hospital for over two weeks before discharge.  An MRI scan confirmed that he now had osteomyelitis.

Despite numerous treatments and hospital admissions, the ulcer did not heal and the infection persisted.  He therefore underwent a left below knee amputation.

Expert evidence was obtained that the defendant had been negligent in failing to admit the claimant to hospital when he first attended and treat the ulcer with IV antibiotics, off-loading of the foot and diabetic care.

As a result of the claimant’s very poor diabetic control, an amputation would always have been likely but would have been prevented for 5 years.

The defendant made limited admissions as to breach of duty but denied that the outcome would have been any different i.e. the claimant would always have needed an amputation at the time that this occurred in any event.

Court proceedings were issued and served and negotiation was settled without the case reaching trial.

Jenny Waight specialises in clinical negligence cases.  If you would like to ask a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any personal injury, contact Jenny Waight at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701374 in confidence.

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