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Elderly woman dies after an ulcer results in septicaemia and leg amputation

70 year old Mary had an ulcer on the back of her leg which, for years, was regularly dressed by a nurse at her local Health Centre.

One day, the nurse noticed the ulcer was bleeding and so Mary’s GP referred her to hospital where she was admitted.

Mary remained in hospital for over five weeks during which time she lost a lot of weight as she was unable to feed herself due to weakness caused by rheumatoid arthritis. As no one had been helping her eat, she left hospital significantly weaker than when she was admitted.

By the time Mary was discharged home, the condition of the ulcer had worsened and bone fragments were noticeable through the skin.

A week after discharge, Mary’s family called an ambulance as her condition had worsened day by day.

On her return to hospital, they discovered Mary had developed septicaemia and ultimately her leg had to be amputated.

Whilst recovering from her leg amputation, Mary developed Grade 4 pressure sores and generally received poor nursing care at the hospital.

The vac machine used for treating pressure sores was not working properly and the staff failed to turn Mary on a regular basis which left her with worsening and often undressed pressure sores. Mary went on to develop pneumonia and, sadly, later died.

Mary’s husband instructed Potter Rees Dolan to bring a claim on behalf of Mary’s estate for her pain and suffering prior to death and, on his behalf, for loss of his wife.

The maximum likely value of the claim was around £40,000. However, after receiving representation at the inquest, Mary’s husband decided that he would prefer we seek a prompt settlement of the claim rather than face a potential battle with the hospital in what might have turned into a difficult case.

Potter Rees Dolan were successful in securing a settlement figure for Mary’s husband and estate of £27,500.

Lesley Herbertson acted on behalf of the family and commented:

This was a very sad case. Mary was clearly a much loved wife, mother and grandmother and her family had had to watch her overall health deteriorate after she had been admitted to hospital for treatment that should have improved her condition.

The family came to Potter Rees Dolan asking for representation at the forthcoming inquest but also to investigate into the possible claim in clinical negligence. They could not accept that the treatment that Mary had received in hospital could be anything more than of an unacceptable standard.

There were issues with the case given that Mary had had long standing health issues before the events above even started. However, the family were happy to have their voice heard at the inquest and to reach a fair settlement at a very early stage.

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