£90,000 Compensation for Avoidable Amputation of Fingers

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Kate McCue

Medical Negligence Associate Solicitor

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A Medical Negligence Claim Case Study - Client Situation

This case study concerns our client who went to the Accident & Emergency Department at St Thomas’s Hospital in London after coughing up blood and losing weight for 11 consecutive days.

Following an assessment, he was admitted to a ward but unfortunately his symptoms progressively got worse. Due to this, he was transferred to intensive care for emergency surgery to resolve the issue. A day later following the surgery, it was noted that the client’s right hand was cool to touch with dusky coloured fingers and that he was no longer able to squeeze any of his fingers using that hand.

This situation continued  the next day and at this point it was recorded that there was absolutely no evidence of the finger not getting enough blood. As such, it was decided that the best course of action would be to remove an arterial line which had been inserted during the surgery.

Following further reviews, our client was unfortunately advised  that he was likely to lose some of his fingers. Accordingly,   the amputation was carried out to his fingers  several months later.

The removal of his fingers meant that our client faced many difficulties following the surgery and the amputation. The hand on which the fingers had been amputated had previously been our clients’ dominant hand.  However he could no longer use this as such.. This led to him struggling to perform many everyday tasks that required the use of both hands, and he was also unable to go back to his job as a driver.

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How We Were Able To Help At Simpson Millar

The client approached Simpson Millar’s team of expert specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors for help to claim compensation from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. One of our expert Medical Negligence Solicitors, Julie Dudson, took on the case for further investigations  to assess the client’s prospects of success.

After conducting initial investigations into the case and obtaining the necessary evidence, Julie argued that the arterial line that had been inserted during the client’s initial surgery ought to have been watched carefully and removed sooner, especially when it was first noted that the patient’s hand was cool to touch and that his fingers were dusky in colour.

After monitoring the hand for around 30 minutes from the removal of the line, if the hand  wasn’t spontaneously recovering, the client ought to have been given medication that help to prevent blood clots from forming.

Julie believed and successfully argued that if these breaches hadn’t happened, our client’s hand would have made a full recovery and that his fingers wouldn’t have needed to have been amputated at all.

After our team intimated the medical negligence claim to them, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust admitted that some mistakes had been made with the removal of the arterial line. However, they put forward the argument that if the arterial line that had been inserted into our client’s hand  had been removed sooner, the damage to our client’s hand would already have been done. As such, they essentially advanced the argument that although they had made a mistake in failing to remove the arterial line sooner, ultimately it would not have made a difference to the outcome in our client’s fingers having to be amputated.

Accordingly, the NHS Trust refused to admit liability, or fault, for the negligence and our client’s subsequent condition. Due to this, our expert team of Medical Negligence Solicitors proceeded to raise court proceedings to progress the client’s case and attempt to secure him a settlement amount for compensation arising from the negligence.

Issuing court proceedings is almost always usually a last resort in cases concerning medical negligence and personal injury generally. Every effort is made initially to present the claim to the defendant (in this case, the defendant was Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust) together with all the evidence ingathered during the initial investigation conducted by our expert team. This is done in order to present the case and all of the evidence to the defendant in an effort to convince them to admit liability for the negligence and subsequent damage or injury caused to the client. 

In some cases, it may be that the defendant assesses the case and decides to admit liability. At this point, the defendant is in essence saying that they know that errors and possibly omissions were made that were negligent in nature and that this contributed significantly to or directly caused injury, damage or loss to the client. If liability is admitted, our expert team can proceed to ingather the relevant medical evidence and any other expert reports and  evidence to fully show the extent of the impact that the negligence has had on the client. Once the defendant has had sight of this, it is open to them to make an offer of settlement to conclude the case.

In the event that the offer is not sufficient, and negotiations do not resolve matters in order to agree a suitable settlement amount for compensation, court proceedings can be issued in an effort to persuade the defendant to settle the matter out of court with an improved offer. 

However, in this case, matters did not even get to this point as the defendant simply refused to admit any fault or negligence for our client’s injuries. Accordingly, court proceedings were issued  to try and achieve a favourable and fair outcome for the client’s medical negligence case.

The Outcome

As happens in the majority of cases, this case settled out of court before any final court hearing had to take place. The case settled for a total of £90,000 to compensate our client for the injury, damage and loss that he suffered arising out of the negligent care he received and subsequent amputations. This compensation will assist our client to access the care and support he requires to live as independently as possible. Additionally, it is hoped that this compensation amount will ease any financial pressures he faces as a result of the medical negligence he experienced.

For more information on compensation arising from amputations, please see our Amputation Compensation Payouts Guide here.

Kate McCue

Medical Negligence Associate Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Medical Negligence

Kate joined the Clinical Negligence department at Simpson Millar in January 2023 after previously working at Chris Kallis Solicitors in Plymouth. Kate qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and has developed extensive experience in both Personal Injury and Medical Negligence.   

Initially Kate started working as a Defendant Solicitor for firms such as Bond Pearce LLP and DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd. This has allowed Kate to develop a tactical advantage to her cases, using the experience of how a claim is dealt with from a Defendant’s perspective. 

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