Matthew Brown, a qualified Chartered Legal Executive at our firm, acted for the widower of a 63-year-old lady (“the deceased”) who received £165,000 in compensation. In June 2015, his late wife’s GP negligently failed to suspect or to diagnose a critically ischaemic right foot. The GP failed to refer her to a vascular surgeon. Consequently, she suffered necrosis (death of tissue) in the right foot and had to undergo above knee amputation of the right leg. She suffered post-operative complications which ultimately resulted in her tragic death in November 2015.
The £165,000 settlement included general damages (for pain, suffering and loss of amenity) of £40,000, the statutory bereavement award of £12,980 and past and future loss of financial and services dependency of over £100,000.
On 25 March 2015, the deceased saw her GP with a 3-week history of crampy pain in both calves when walking. The GP planned to undertake blood tests and to review her again. If her symptoms persisted, a vascular referral was to be considered.
The deceased was reviewed four times in May 2015, twice by a Specialist Nurse Practitioner and twice by a GP. She was again reviewed on 11 June by a Specialist Nurse Practitioner and, upon discussion with a GP, it was noted that there was a circulatory problem. The deceased was referred to a Consultant Vascular Surgeon on a routine appointment basis.
The deceased was seen a further five times between 18 June and 14 July 2015 by her GP or a Specialist Nurse Practitioner and also attended Barnsley Hospital for daily administration of intravenous teicoplanin (an antibiotic used to treat serious infection).
On 23 July, a Consultant Vascular Surgeon noted that the distal pulses in both legs were absent and he diagnosed critical ischaemia (a very serious issue with circulation) with the presence of superficial necrosis of the right foot toes. He noted that there appeared to have been a significant delay in the deceased being seen as a result of a routine ‘Choose and Book’ appointment having been made.
The deceased was admitted to the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, for analgesia and arterial imaging with a view to revascularisation. An angiogram was performed on 31 July and a right femoro-distal bypass operation was performed on 07 August. Upon discharge to home on 14 August, the deceased had a chronic ulcer of her right foot and the thigh wound had not yet healed post-operatively.
The deceased’s right leg remained ulcerated over the following weeks and her foot did not heal. As a result, she underwent above knee amputation on 21 October. On 22 October, the deceased was given a rapid blood transfusion. After that, tragically, she suffered from acute respiratory distress syndrome and a heart attack.
The deceased was admitted to a Critical Care Unit and remained extremely unwell until her sad death on 17 November 2015.
Matthew sent a Letter of Notification to two GPs involved in the deceased’s care on 24 August 2017. Letters of Claim were subsequently sent to five potential defendants in October 2018. Court proceedings were served on three defendants and upon consideration of the respective defences, and having secured an admission of breach of duty from one of the GP defendants, the claims against the other two defendants were discontinued.
It was admitted that the GP was negligent on 11 June, 18 June and 26 June but it was not admitted that any actionable delay materially affected the management of the deceased and her outcome.
The parties relied on expert evidence in the fields of General Practice, Vascular Surgery and life expectancy.
Although a resolution could not be found at a Joint Settlement Meeting (JSM) in October 2020, the parties were able to negotiate an agreed settlement within a couple of months thereafter.
The claim was for general damages at £47,000, bereavement award of £12,980, past losses of £6,500, loss of financial dependency of £7,200 and loss of services dependency of £265,000.
“Had my client proceeded to trial then he may well have recovered a higher level of compensation. The settlement reflected a reduction in figures during settlement negotiations to take account of the risks of going to trial and the preference for a quicker settlement. A lot of clients are willing to accept lower awards of settlement rather than face the prospect of having to attend court.”Matthew Brown