The story of Michelle Richards who has recovered damages for an unnecessarily amputation of her leg is an appalling story of medical negligence. She was wrongly diagnosed with osteomyelitis (infection in the bone) which is a very extremely serious condition. Her leg was amputated to avoid infection spreading and threatening her life. But there was in reality no such infection.
To lose a leg is devastating. Many people continue to suffer phantom limb pain, swelling and infection of the stump and their mobility is always likely to be limited. The quality of prosthetic legs available privately is extraordinary (but also extraordinarily expensive), although they are not so good on the NHS. But however good the limb, walking on slopes and rough ground is difficult, climbing stairs is hazardous and simple activities of daily care are complicated.
One of my clients who is struggling with his NHS prosthesis tells me how nerve-wracking it is to navigate crowded spaces. He looks able-bodied but feels unstable. People will brush past him not realising that he has a prosthetic leg. On one occasion he fell in the supermarket and could not get up. No one helped him assuming he must be drunk.
Another told me of the humiliation of his leg falling off whilst standing on the touchline watching his son play football.
Medical accidents as serious as that suffered by Michelle Richards are fortunately rare. They are however devastating and the cost of providing adequate limbs, providing care and adapting their homes is enormous. The levels of damages can in some circumstances exceed a million and this unlucky woman deserves all the compensation she recovered.
Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.