Infection to foot after negligent orthopaedic treatment

Posted by Gemma Osgood on

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Mrs M had an operation to correct a bunion and clawed toes. During this surgery, wires were used to straighten her toes. After surgery Mrs M noticed that these wires were protruding by as much as one inch from her toe. She was advised to attend the hospital where the nurse removed the dressing to her foot, the surgeon examined her foot and the wound was noted to be clean and healthy.

The surgeon obtained a pair of surgical pliers and used these to push the protruding wires back into Mrs M's foot. He did not use gloves and did not take steps to prepare aseptic conditions. The pliers used were not sterilised and no steps were taken to clean or sterilise the protruding wires. Afterwards, Mrs M's foot was redressed and she was discharged home. No x-rays were taken and no antibiotics were provided. 

Mrs M attended a different hospital a few days later due to increased pain together with blood and fluid oozing from her foot, it was swollen and it appeared to be infected. Mrs M was noted to be experiencing nausea, fever, pain and her foot was exuding pus at the wound site of her toe. She underwent a debridement of the wound and removal of the metalwork under general anaesthetic due to infection.  Later she required a second washout and excision of necrotic tissue from the wound under General Anaesthetic. Mrs M then underwent a wound reconstruction with a flap from her arm and a skin graft.  Subsequently, Mrs M was also diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and she required daily injections of heparin and then a prescription for Warfarin.

Mrs M still experiences significant pain and limitation in function in her right foot. She was absent from work for approximately 9 months. She has returned to work but only at a reduced capacity. She suffered significant scarring to her arm and foot, and she is very conscious about how her foot now looks, and she cannot wear normal shoes which she finds very distressing.

Mrs M contacted BL Claims Solicitors as specialist clinical negligence solicitors. We investigated the case and sent a formal Letter of Claim to the Trust involved.  Our case was that the surgeon ought not to have reinserted the K-wires and that by reinserting the wires he caused and/or materially contributed to the infection that Mrs M subsequently developed in her foot. Following negotiations, Mrs M accepted £80,000 as full and final settlement of her claim. 

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About the Author

Gemma is a Senior Associate in our Clinical Negligence team with extensive experience in all areas of medical negligence claims.

Gemma Osgood
Email Gemma
023 8085 7248

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