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Elective surgery error led to sepsis and leg amputation | Our Client’s Story

Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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elective surgery

The skill and knowledge of our in-house practice nurse was instrumental in successfully settling a claim for medical negligence by our client against a local NSW area health service and two specialist medical practitioners.

During elective surgery, our client received a perforation which ended up leading to sepsis infection and her leg needing to be amputated. She endured months of unnecessary pain and difficulty walking before the infection was even diagnosed. In all she had to go through not one, but four surgical operations.

After her amputation, she spent nine months in hospital. When she finally left, she needed a wheelchair for mobility and was unable to undertake many tasks, including shopping and showering, unaided.

Understandably, our client has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The sepsis infection left her with renal dysfunction and kidney disease for which she had to undergo multiple further treatments and a hospital admission. Her life expectancy has been shortened.

We successfully settled our client’s claim before it went to court. She received damages, interest and costs.

How our client’s elective surgery nightmare unfolded

Our client has elective surgery for an abdominal aneurysm.

When she went back to the Intensive Care Unit, she had no blood flow to her legs. So, she was taken back for more surgery – a limb graft.

The next day she had cold feet and they appeared mottled. A few days later our client’s groin was sloughy and oozing.

When her stitches were removed weeks later she still had some slough and redness to the area. Despite having inflammatory markers she was discharged from hospital.

Several weeks passed and our client attended the vascular clinic at the hospital. The doctor noted she was tired and sore but said her wounds were healing well.

Two months later at the same clinic. The same doctor noted that she was getting pain to the groin which was travelling down to her knee.

Over the next several months our client complained to her GP of pain in the groin. Her GP referred her to the hospital again.

That night she lost bladder control and the next day took herself to the hospital emergency department. She had leg pain, felt unwell and could hardly walk.

A CT scan showed she had a perforation consistent with a graft infection which was then confirmed by an Infectious Diseases Staff Specialist.

More surgery confirmed the perforation had allowed faecal matter to leak into her abdomen.

Two weeks later she had more surgery to amputate her right leg – above her knee.

The advantage of our in-house nurse

The advantage of our firm having an in-house nurse is that she understands the policies and procedures that should be followed.

She immediately knew that the hospital had failed in its duty of care to our client because it had failed to take steps to prevent the perforation which ultimately caused the infection and amputation. The hospital failed to appropriately investigate infection and discharged her despite having inflammatory markers. The hospital then failed to appropriately investigate the presence of infection and failed to readmit her to hospital on several other occasions.

Our practice nurse helps our health lawyers with advice, information and contact with other expert medical professionals we enlist to investigate our claims of negligence.

Let us fight for you or your loved one

If you or a loved one has experienced complications from poor surgical care, please get in touch with one of our caring, expert, health lawyers about the options available to you.

Taking legal action can also help change health care practices and hold health care professionals to account so other people do not to have experience what you went through.



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