A 60 year old woman known only as Mrs M to protect her identity has finally received a significant 6-figure sum after experiencing negligent treatment at her local A&E department.

The hospital involved initially admitted that mistakes had been made in Mrs M’s treatment in 2009 when responding to her complaint, but later denied liability and fought the case until very shortly before the trial.

Mrs M was represented by specialist medical negligence solicitor Angharad Vaughan who said, ‘despite an early admission of poor care by the Trust, it is extremely disappointing that Mrs M had to fight for over six years to obtain compensation for the appalling treatment she received, which has affected her life forever and delayed her rehabilitation.’

Mrs M, a diabetic, attended her local A&E department because she was suffering from a swelling in her perianal area. She was feverish and in severe pain.

She was examined by a doctor who told her that she had an abscess. She was advised that she needed some strong antibiotics. Her blood pressure and blood sugar levels were not checked. She was not given any instructions about what to do if she felt worse.

Over the next few days Mrs M became increasingly unwell and her abscess became worse. She started to vomit and returned to the A&E department when it was recognised that she was seriously ill. She was examined by a number of doctors who diagnosed her with gangrene and necrotising fasciitis, a serious bacterial infection which can destroy skin, fat, and the tissue covering the muscles within a very short time.

Mrs M was admitted for emergency surgery where it was discovered that she had suffered such severe internal damage that she would need a permanent colostomy. This was carried out in a separate operation.

Mrs M underwent several operations over the following ten days to assess the remaining tissue and control the spread of infection. During her period of recuperation she suffered two strokes and a heart attack which have resulted in subtle but devastating neurological injury.

Mrs M was finally discharged from hospital two months later. She was unable to walk for the first 18 months and was reliant on a wheelchair. She now requires high levels of care and assistance from her family to help her manage her daily life. She has difficulty standing and has to use a stick when walking. Her right side, including her right arm are weakened. She is left with a permanent colostomy which she finds upsetting and humiliating and has suffered a severe depressive illness as a result of her injuries.

Mrs M complained about the hospital care she had received and approached Leigh Day to bring a claim against the NHS Trust she attended.

The Chief Executive of the Trust wrote to Mrs M a few months after her injury to apologise for the failures in treatment she had received. However, the Trust refused to make a legal admission of liability. Leigh Day investigated Mrs M’s case and obtained independent medical expert evidence which advised that the Trust had failed in its duty to Mrs M by failing to refer her for surgical assessment when she first attended A&E, failing to carry out complete observations, failing to admit her for intravenous antibiotic therapy and surgical intervention and failing to recognise that her abscess needed surgical treatment.

Leigh Day argued that if Mrs M had received the appropriate care she needed she would have avoided the need for a colostomy, major surgery and the complications of two strokes.

Following negotiations, over six years after receiving notification of Mrs M’s claim, the Trust finally agreed to pay Mrs M a 6-figure sum, which was over 8 times more than their first offer of compensation.

Leigh Day medical negligence specialist solicitor Angharad Vaughan said:

“My client’s life has been changed forever as a result of failings in care she received at her local A&E department. Had she been treated appropriately when she first presented at hospital, she would have avoided the need for emergency life-saving surgery, the formation of a colostomy and the resulting complications. Her social life has been ruined because of having to manage her colostomy. She has lost her independence and now requires significant care and support in her daily life.

“I hope that this compensation will give Mrs M the resources she needs to improve her quality of life, pay for care and assistance, rehabilitation and therapies and to make suitable adaptations to her home.”

Mrs M said:

“I have been wholly satisfied by the support which I have received from Leigh Day. At all times Angharad dealt with me as a person, and not just another case. She was professional, courteous and empathetic and worked tirelessly towards a resolution.

“Whilst the compensation cannot ever replace the quality of life which I have lost, it has helped greatly in providing the facilities and therapies I need.”