More should be done to ensure that post-operative mortality rates after major amputation are lowered says leading medical negligence lawyer

Medical negligence solicitor Sanja Strkljevic has expressed her disappointment in the lack of progress in reducing the high mortality rates in patients who have undergone lower limb amputations because of diabetes or vascular disease.

In 2010 The Vascular Society noted that mortality rates following major amputation were between 9% and 17% and agreed a set of recommendations to reduce the mortality rate to less than 5% by 2015.

A 2014 report published by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD), Lower Limb Amputation: Working Together [], reviewed the care received by patients who had undergone a major lower limb amputation because of vascular disease and diabetes and noted a 12% mortality rate. The report also noted that fewer than 50% of patients undergoing surgery receive good care.

Further, concerns were raised by the nursing profession in the disappointing lack of progress in reducing the mortality rate of lower limb amputees by the recent publication of an article in the Nursing Times “Caring for patients with lower limb amputation”

The NCEPOD report contained 20 recommendations for improving amputee patient care, many relating to pain management, access to early amputee rehabilitation programmes, screening for MRSA and the monitoring of re-infection rates.

The report also highlighted the importance of co-ordinated care, ideally with occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers all working together to support patients who have recently undergone amputation surgery.

Medical negligence solicitor from Leigh Day, Sanja Strkljevic, welcomes moves to highlight the importance of excellent post-operative care and pain management for amputees.  She says:

“The quality of life for amputees is improved immeasurably if their pre and post-operative pain is managed better.  Pain can significantly impede a patient’s early rehabilitation and take up of physiotherapy, and getting used to a new prosthetic limb, leading to a slower recovery.  Timely access to appropriate medical and rehabilitation services is vital to patients undergoing such a life-changing event.”

Speaking about the high death rate that persists in amputee patients who are diabetic or suffer from vascular disease she added: 

“I hope that the recommendations set out in the 2014 NCEPOD report on the complex care of these vulnerable patients will be adopted in full by health trusts, and that the next report on patient mortality rates for lower limb amputees will record a distinct improvement.”


Caring for patients with lower limb amputation Nursing Times 20.7.15

Amputation risk for people living with diabetes highlighted by charity 11.5.15