Pensioner Needed Amputation After Hospital Failed To Treat Infected Ankle And Leg Wound

Lawyers secure Six-Figure Settlement For Adapted House, Rehabilitation And Recovery After Post-Op Infection Not Treated Appropriately

05.11.2013

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A pensioner who had to have his leg amputated below the knee because medical staff failed to correctly treat an infected wound after he suffered an ankle and leg fracture has called for lessons to be learnt after receiving a settlement to help with his recovery.

Michael Clark, from Wakefield, fell badly while working in his garden at home in November 2010, fracturing his ankle and leg.

The 71-year-old underwent surgery the same month to fit screws and a plate to fix the fracture before being discharged home three days later. But despite various follow up appointments, an infection in the wound was not treated until the screws were protruding from his leg.

As a result of the delay in receiving appropriate antibiotic treatment, he had to undergo below the knee amputation as the infection spread to the bone, meaning that it was not possible for the fracture to repair itself.

Mr Clark instructed specialist medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his medical care and to help secure funds to assist his ongoing rehabilitation and recovery after having to undergo the amputation in January last year.

Independent expert medical evidence gathered by Irwin Mitchell found that attempts to treat the infection in his leg with antibiotics were too late and he should have been receiving treatment up to four months earlier than when they were prescribed in April 2011.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, who are responsible for the care provided by Pinderfields Hospital, admitted that those treating Mr Clark failed to recognise the post operative infection and deal with it quickly and aggressive enough. They also admitted that the amputation would have been avoided with more timely management of the infection.

Irwin Mitchell secured a six-figure settlement for Mr Clark for the injuries he sustained as a result of the hospital’s negligence which will to provide him with the necessary funds to obtain an adapted property, undergo specialist rehabilitation treatment and cover the costs of mobility equipment.

Margaret Ryan, a specialist medical lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mr Clark, said: “Unfortunately the post-operative care he received was below the standards expected. There was a delay in diagnosing and treating his infection. The opportunity to treat the infection was missed on numerous occasions and by the time it was eventually treated with appropriate antibiotics it was too late and amputation was unavoidable.

“Had he received the appropriate care he would not have needed the below the knee amputation. The Trust must ensure they learn lessons in their approach to dealing with post-operative infections so that patient safety is improved.

“He is now looking to get his life back on track and the settlement will help him to get the appropriate accommodation and specialist equipment he now needs.”

Mr Clark was mending a fence in his garden when he fell and injured his right ankle.

After surgery at Pinderfields Hospital to repair the fracture he was discharged home with a frame to help him walk while the fracture and wound healed.

Unfortunately, Mr Clark developed a post-operative infection. However, despite various follow up appointments at the fracture clinic at Pinderfields between December 2010 and March 2011, no action was taken to treat the infection and in particular no antibiotics were prescribed.

Antibiotics were eventually prescribed in April 2011 but by this time the wound was severely infected and the screw used to fit the plate in place on his leg had began to protrude from the wound. Mr Clark had to be admitted to hospital on two separate occasions in April 2011 to have intravenous antibiotics to try and treat the infection and to remove the screw.

In July 2011 Mr Clark was informed by the specialists at Hull Royal Infirmary, where he had now been referred, that the infection had spread to the bone and that the fracture had not healed. The infection and fracture did not get any better over the next few months so Mr Clark agreed to undergo a below the knee amputation which was performed on 19 January 2012.

Mr Clark still suffers from pain in his right leg and has to use a motorised scooter when travelling any long distances. He has also needed to get a wheelchair and has a specially adapted car.

Mr Clark said: “This has been a nightmare few years for me. I used to be really active and in fact I was gardening when I fell in the first place. Now I can only walk short distances and it’s much harder and slower for me to get around.

“The whole situation has really got me down at times over the past couple of years but now Irwin Mitchell has secured the settlement I can look forward to purchasing a suitable property and make sure I’ve got the best equipment to help me get up and about.

“It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders and my wife and I can now start to live our lives again. To think the infection should have been better managed is very hard to come to terms with and I just hope they now learn from their mistakes to prevent others from having to endure what I have.”

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