Man Left Permanently Disabled After Infected Knee Was Left Undiagnosed

Expert Medical Lawyers Secure Six-Figure Settlement From The Trust


A man who has been left permanently disabled after being discharged from hospital despite suffering a serious bacterial infection in his knee, is speaking out for the first time after specialist medical lawyers secured vital funds to help with his future care.

Anthony Slee, 73, from Melksham, in Wiltshire was left fighting for his life after suffering from septic arthritis, multi-organ failure and septicaemia after being discharged from the Royal United Hospital in Bath on 18 February 2010 having been told he was suffering from Gout and that it would clear up in 7-10 days.

Anthony’s condition deteriorated at a rapid rate once he was at home. His wife Judith was extremely concerned and called for assistance for her husband several times, including an ambulance just five days later. On 22 February, he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in a critical condition where he stayed for three weeks.
Over the next few months he had a total of 18 operations on his left knee, wrist and upper arm as well as maggot therapy, vacuum therapy and multiple blood transfusions to help treat the infection and save his life.

The father-of-one instructed specialist medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate why the serious infection was not diagnosed and treated earlier by the Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust. Despite strenuously denying liability for his injuries, the NHS Trust has now agreed an undisclosed six-figure settlement for Anthony to help with his ongoing care.

Expert medical evidence gathered by Irwin Mitchell found that the initial tests Anthony had at hospital revealed on 20th February he was suffering from staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics, but nothing was done until days later when a message was left on his phone to inform him of his microbiology results and ask how he was. The message was not found until after he had been hospitalised by which time he was critically ill.

After his treatment in Intensive care, Anthony was transferred to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol on 21 April 2010 where he underwent a nine-and-a-half hour operation to attempt to save his life and allow him to walk. He had his patella (knee cap) removed, the bones in his left leg fused together, and a flap skin graft taken from his right thigh to cover the wound on his left leg.

Anthony was later discharged to the Chippenham Community Hospital in June 2010 for rehabilitation. He then developed another infection and needed further surgery to his wrist which included removal of three bones and a wire inserted to stabilise the joint. He now has very limited mobility in his leg and wrist.

Expert Opinion
Anthony has been through a truly traumatic ordeal and his illness and injuries have had a substantial impact on his and his wife’s life. We are pleased that we have been able to secure him a settlement which will be vital to ensure Anthony receives the ongoing medical care and rehabilitation he now needs.

“Anthony’s quality of life has been significantly reduced due to the nature of his injuries which has left him permanently disabled and heavily reliant on those around him.

“We hope that Anthony’s case will ensure lessons are learnt to help improve future care so that no one else has to suffer the traumatic ordeal that Anthony has.”
Emma Rush, Associate

Commenting on his case, Anthony said: “I was hospitalised in four different hospitals for eight months.  For the last four years I have been in and out of hospital and clinics on so many occasions due to side effects and complications with my illness and injuries. In total I have undergone 18 operations and my kidney function is now impaired and I am on permanent diuretics medication.

“Daily tasks such as getting up, walking, taking a shower, eating at the dinner table have become a great difficulty for me and I have to rely heavily on Judith to help me. Due to the fusion operation, my left leg has been shortened and thickened. I must wear specialist built-up shoes to correct it. I can’t walk without a walking stick and I have very limited use of my hand and wrist so I struggle to do simple things like holding cutlery and fastening buttons on my clothes.

“I can no longer drive a car, Judith and I have had to buy another car to cater for my disability and we have also had our bathroom adapted so that I am able to use the facilities, even with the limited use of my left arm.

“Our lives have been completely turned upside down. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that medical evidence has suggested, and the hospital has agreed, that if my infection had been treated sooner with antibiotics I may not have been put in this situation.

“I am relieved that the Trust have agreed a settlement for pain, suffering and future needs. And at least the settlement means I can begin to look forward and have some funds to provide any necessary aids and equipment and home alterations required  in the future.”