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Record number of negligence claims over amputations

February 24, 2021

This is a guest post.

Fortunately, in the UK medical negligence mistakes are rare due to the high standard of care we receive. Unfortunately, when mistakes happen the impact on the individual and their family is huge and can be life changing. Mistakes come in all forms, with some of the most severe examples being amputation negligence. Helping someone pick up the pieces and get back to doing the thigs they love after an accident or negligence that leads to limb loss is so important. In this blog I will explore some of the key issues and questions I often get asked when helping a client along the recovery road. 

Amputation resulting from medical negligence can be caused in a variety of ways such as:

  • A surgeon operating on the wrong site
  • Poor management of peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients
  • Delayed treatment of an infection
  • Failure to recognise the blood supply has been cut off to a limb
  • Where cancer is involved, it is important to stop the spread as soon as possible, and failing to do so can lead to the need for amputation.

Due to the aggressive and rapid development of infections and viruses, delay in treatment of a few days or even a few hours can mean that it is too late to save hands, toes, feet or in extreme cases whole limbs and therefore timing in these cases is critical.

How to bring a medical negligence claim and the time limits

To bring amputation related medical negligence claim there are a number of different tests that must be satisfied for it to be successful.

Firstly, we must prove that the Doctor/Hospital have breached their duty and the care and treatment they provided was negligent which fell below the reasonable standard expected from a medical practitioner. Secondly, we must show that as a result of this breach, you have suffered injury, i.e. have had to undergo an avoidable amputation.

In terms of time limits, you have 3 years from when the amputation took place to make a claim for compensation. If you’re claiming on behalf of a child, you have until their 18th birthday to start the claim, after which it will become the child’s responsibility and the 3-year deadline applies

An amputation will have a dramatic effect on anybody’s life. Apart from the physical and emotional pain and suffering, it can prevent you from working in your job leading to having to take work which is less paid.  

The physical aspects following an amputation are very tough and the mobility restrictions will require specialist prosthetics to help with movement on a day to day basis. In some cases due to not being able to climb stairs, it may even lead to changing to an alternative property without stairs.  Even if you can remain in your present home, it is likely that special equipment will be required to assist with your everyday needs.

All of these arrangements cost a very considerable sum of money and that is why compensation is of vital importance.

Whilst compensation cannot return your life to exactly how it was before your accident, it is designed to get you as close as is reasonably possible and will help secure funding to ensure life continues to be full of enjoyment with the use of the equipment and support required.

Before an incident everyday tasks can be tiresome or just part of a routine, but take that away suddenly and with no warning, you quickly realise that those small acts are essential to who that person is. Bringing a claim is about getting people back to that point, ensuring they have the right equipment to do these everyday jobs that make them, them. For one of my clients, playing sport was an essential part of life so we made sure that he was able to purchase the relevant prosthetics  children to bed was all he wanted to do, so ensuring he had an up-to-date wheelchair that was easily moveable in a small bedroom was central to the case. 

Bhavesh Patel, Solicitor in the Clinical Negligence team at Lime Solicitors

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