’Brave’ Mum Rebuilds Her Life After Trust Admit Her Leg Could Have Been Saved
A brave mum of three who was forced to endure an amputation after a catalogue of medical blunders has today spoken for the first time following a three year battle for justice which resulted in the hospital admitting her devastating injuries could have been avoided.
Lorraine Brewin, 46, is finally able to make plans to rebuild her life after the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that inadequate care following a routine operation to remove varicose veins from her left leg in January 2009 led to the amputation – a wholly avoidable loss she says will take her the rest of her life to come to terms with.
Specialist medical law and patient rights experts at Irwin Mitchell have secured the former factory worker from Grantham in Lincolnshire an interim payment so that she can move into a specially adapted bungalow giving her independence and freedom to move around in her wheelchair.
Lorraine expected to leave the Grantham and District Hospital a day after the routine operation but she instead started to suffer a dangerous build up of blood in her leg – called compartment syndrome. Once doctors finally realised she was suffering from the serious problem she was transferred to Lincoln County Hospital for further surgery to alleviate the pressure in her leg. Further delays and a lack of physiotherapy meant she had to have the lower part of her left leg removed.
Zoe Brodrick from Irwin Mitchell is representing Lorraine in her ongoing battle to secure the funds she needs to live as normal a life as possible despite the injuries she has sustained. She said: “Lorraine is likely to suffer constant pain and discomfort for the rest of her life as a result of the avoidable errors at the hospitals where she received treatment.
“She is reliant on a wheelchair and is facing an ongoing struggle to adapt to her new life as well as coming to terms with the fact that had she received the correct treatment and after care the amputation could so easily have been avoided.
“Despite this Lorraine is relieved the trust has now accepted full responsibility for the failures in her care, though she is frustrated that it has taken three years for them to do so. We hope that lessons have been learnt by the trust to prevent other patients suffering from similar mistakes in the future.”
Her lawyers went on to describe her bravery and determination to battle for justice as ‘admirable’ after the trust responsible for the Grantham and District Hospital and Lincoln County Hospital admitted they not only failed to spot that she was suffering from a serious condition known as compartment syndrome – where blood builds up in the leg causing it to swell – but also failed to act on it for eight hours which made the condition worse.
They also went on to admit that Lincoln County Hospital responsible for Lorraine’s after care did not offer her any physiotherapy or a splint for her left foot for three months which led to further damage to the tendons in her calf and heel and a painful condition called ‘dropped foot,’ where her foot became twisted and she lost the movement over her ankle and toes.
The delays in her treatment and lack of physiotherapy meant Lorraine had to face the agonising decision to have her leg amputated and is now confined to a wheelchair and unable to work.
Mrs Brodrick from Irwin Mitchell added: “The last three years have been harrowing and frustrating for Lorraine and it shows how common operations like this to remove varicose veins can go terribly wrong if staff are not diligent enough following surgery. Her bravery and determination to battle for answers and justice in spite of her suffering has been truly admirable.
“We will continue to work with the trust to ensure that Lorraine receives access to the necessary care, rehabilitation and equipment she needs to move forward with her life as best she can under the circumstances.”
Lorraine, who has been supported through her ordeal by her husband of 20 years Dave, struggles to wear a prosthetic leg due to the blisters and swelling she experiences and is reliant on her wheelchair to get out and about. Doctors have also advised her she faces knee replacement surgery in future as the cartilage between her knee and leg bone of her amputated leg has been damaged by severe arthritis.
Lorraine now relies on carer who helps her with jobs around the house and getting out and about and she is looking forward to starting the process of rebuilding her life after receiving the six-figure interim payment.
She said: “The last three years have been the most upsetting and physically painful of my life and the fact that the amputation could so easily have been avoided had I received the right care is something I don’t think I’ll ever get over. Before the surgery I was fit and healthy apart from the varicose veins but I’ve been wheelchair bound ever since.
“My whole life has changed and it took a while for all of us to accept the situation and I often feel that more of me is missing than just my leg. It’s depressing being stuck at home while David is at work full time and I miss working too. I’m in pain and uncomfortable all the time and have terrible nightmares about what I’ve been through.
“I feel like I’ve lost my independence too and although my family help care for me it’s not been easy for any of us.
“It’s a huge relief the settlement has now been agreed because moving into a new, specially-adapted house will be a fresh start for all of us and more suitable for my needs. The family has lived in the same house for 13 years but I can’t manage the stairs on my own and while there’s a toilet downstairs, there are no bathing facilities.
“A new home will help me regain my confidence and independence and make me feel more like the old Lorraine again. I just hope the hospital trust has learnt from their mistakes so other patients don’t have to go through what my family and I have in future.”