Q&A - Was hospital negligent in failing to recognize sepsis symptoms that resulted in leg amputation?

Q:    I had an x-ray at hospital for leg pain and was diagnosed with a small fracture in my foot. Over the next week, my symptoms worsened. The leg pain became severe, and I felt feverish. I went to A&E and had a further x-ray, which confirmed that I had fractured my foot. I was discharged and sent home.

3 days later, I felt incredibly unwell and was unable to pass urine. I was confused and in extreme pain. I went to hospital for a third time, but again I was sent home. I saw my GP the next day who suspected sepsis and called an ambulance. At hospital, further tests were carried out which confirmed sepsis. I had to undergo life-saving surgery to amputate my leg below the knee. Could the hospital be negligent for not recognizing the signs of sepsis?

A:    Sepsis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition which occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive whilst fighting infection. Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose, as symptoms can be non-specific and often mimic other common illnesses. However, once suspected treatment should be commenced without delay.

There is a case to be made that you were not properly assessed, which, given your history and symptoms, may have been negligent. You had a well-known risk factor for developing sepsis as you had recently suffered bodily trauma (your fracture) and your symptoms were typical of sepsis.

Early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis is vital to preventing deterioration and permanent injury. Expert evidence is necessary to prove breach of duty of care and to establish what the hospital’s failings have caused. Fundamentally, whether your amputation could have been avoided if you had received a timely diagnosis and treatment. You should consult a local Solicitor who undertakes no win no fee work.

Article June 2021

This question has been answered by Claire Parfitt a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

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Claire Parfitt

Claire Parfitt

Senior Solicitor

Part of our Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Oswestry and Wrexham