Hospital pays £250,000 to grandmother after fall in hospital leads to leg amputation

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A grandmother whose leg was amputated after she was injured by a fall in hospital has been awarded a settlement of £250,000.

Maree Gibbins, 65, broke her leg while struggling to take herself to the toilet at Queen Alexandra Hospital (QAH), Portsmouth, after medical staff failed to respond to her ringing the bell for assistance.

The fall re-fractured her leg, which had been healing after a previous break, and surgeons later performed an amputation below the knee.

Clinical negligence specialist Patricia Wakeford, a Senior Associate at BL Claims Solicitors, took up Mrs Gibbins’s case, arguing that she would not have suffered the injury if nurses had responded to her call for help.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which denied liability, agreed to the six-figure settlement ahead of the case being heard at trial in the High Court.

Mrs Gibbins, of Denmead, who has a condition that can cause her to feel lightheaded when she stands up, was being treated at QAH in April 2012 for a broken leg following a fall at home.

Her leg had been pinned and was healing well when, on the morning of her injury, she rang her bedside call bell to ask for a nurse to help her with her catheter. After the nurse left to find a replacement, Mrs Gibbins began to need the toilet.

She rang her call bell but when there was no response after half an hour, she decided she had no option but to get herself there.

Mrs Gibbins transferred herself from her bed to her manual wheelchair, but when she arrived at the toilet, she had to move equipment and she fell from the chair, re-fracturing her leg.

Doctors were concerned about how Mrs Gibbins’s leg would heal and warned that if they did not amputate, she would face months in hospital and extensive surgery. Reluctantly she agreed to the amputation.

Mrs Gibbins, who has two daughters and three grandchildren aged 16, 13 and two years old, now uses a motorised wheelchair.

She said: “When you are in hospital, you put your trust in the nurses and medical staff. If you need someone to help you, then you expect somebody to be there for you.

“The amputation was a big knock to me. I’m just not the same as before – I can’t do all the things I used to do, particularly going out with the grandchildren.

“I can no longer look after the little one on my own and I can’t drive any more, which severely restricts how much I can get out and about.

“It hasn’t been easy but I’m very grateful for Patricia’s support and for the settlement, which has helped make life a little easier after such a difficult time.”

Mrs Gibbins has used the settlement to make adaptations to her home, creating a driveway and making alterations to the kitchen to make it easier for her to cook while using her wheelchair. Some of the money will go towards a prosthetic leg to help her get around more easily.

Patricia Wakeford of BL Claims Solicitors said: “Mrs Gibbins has suffered significant pain and detriment to her quality of life which could have been avoided had the hospital staff responded to her call for help.

“Although Mrs Gibbins will never again have the same mobility as she had before, I am pleased that we have been able to secure a settlement that has enabled her to carry out improvements to her home to make it more suited to her needs.”

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