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Medical Negligence Settlement For Delay In Diagnosis Of Compartment Syndrome, Leading To Above Knee Amputation

When our client underwent routine coronary artery bypass surgery he could not imagine he would leave hospital with an amputation of his left leg.

After surgery, whilst still sedated and ventilated in intensive care, our client developed a significantly swollen left leg. Whilst some investigations in to a possible cause were undertaken there was a delay in recognising that he had developed a condition known as compartment syndrome (where there is an increase in pressure inside a muscle which restricts blood flow and causes intense pain, partially masked in this case by sedative drugs). Compartment syndrome is well recognised to be a surgical emergency, but unfortunately due to the delay in diagnosis our client suffered significant tissue death in his leg and despite attempts to save it he eventually required above knee amputation.

Our position as his legal representatives was clear (with timely diagnosis) our client would have avoided the amputation and been left with a relatively normal leg (apart from some scarring relating to the surgery he should have had to release the pressure in the muscle compartments). The Hospital Trust admitted that with appropriate treatment our client would have avoided amputation, but suggested that he would still have required debridement surgery and a prolonged period of healing and would have been left with a severely damaged leg resulting in significantly impaired mobility, difficulty walking long distances and discomfort and the possibility of neuropathic pain relating to nerve damage. In other words the admitted breach had not caused all of his injury (causation).

The Trust maintained their position on causation throughout, but supported by supportive expert evidence gained by Hodge Jones & Allen we were in a strong position to negotiate a significant settlement shortly before this case went to trial.

Commenting on the outcome Emma Wray, Partner said: “I am pleased we have finally reached a substantial settlement. Our client will be able to retain his independence with the best available lightweight prosthetic limb and make a move to wheelchair-accessible ground floor accommodation to help with his day to day living”.

Damages awarded: £1.5 million

Emma Wray is a highly experienced medical negligence solicitor with over 15 years of dealing with complex medical negligence claims. Prior to qualifying as a solicitor, Emma was a nursing sister in Coronary Care.

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