Death of patient following failure to diagnose and treat ischaemia of the foot

The patient developed pain in his left lower limb and toe. Over the following seven months his pain progressed and he was sent for various investigations. After about a year the patient’s left foot pain deteriorated significantly. His General Practitioner noted that his foot was cold and that he had no pedal pulses. He was referred to hospital on a non-urgent basis. 2 days later the patient had increased pain in his left foot and was less able to walk. His General Practitioner queried critical ischaemia and referred him as a surgical emergency to the local hospital.

A diagnosis of critical ischaemia of the left foot was made and the plan was to undertake an urgent angiogram the following day. The patient was transferred to the Coronary Care Unit. The patient’s left leg remained cold and he suffered with increased pain. No effective treatment was given and his foot became gangrous. The patient then became septic and required transfer to the Intensive Care Unit where he later died.

It was alleged that the patient had died from septic shock arising from his infected foot. There was failure by the hospital to provide early antibiotics and proceed to an early amputation. It was part of the claim that had the patient received the appropriate treatment he would have survived but would have required a below-the-knee amputation.

The claim concluded in the pre-action period before the issue of proceedings with a substantial settlement on behalf of the patient’s estate.

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