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Mother Has Her Leg Amputated After Doctors Fail to Treat Diabetic Ulcer

Mother Has Her Leg Amputated After Doctors Fail to Treat Diabetic Ulcer

A mother of two had her leg amputated below the knee after doctors failed to treat an ulcer on her foot for near a year…before featuring her in a medical journal on how to treat diabetic ulcers.

Karen Webb, 47, says the ulcer was left to fester for so long she wanted to die from the pain and felt relieved when doctors said they would need to amputate her leg.

Her relief quickly subsided when one of the podiatrists she had been visiting asked to feature her photos in his medical journal, advising other professionals on how to treat the condition. 

Karen, who now relies on a wheel-chair, says: “Right before they amputated my foot and half of my calf I was approached about the paper.

“A picture of my foot was then featured in an article about infected ulcers. The article was written by the same specialist who had been treating me for eight months and consistently said my foot wasn’t infected.

“I was flabbergasted.

This has affected my life forever. Thank god I have my wonderful husband of four years, Sean, without him I would have given up a long time ago.

“It felt like my pleas for help were ignored so I could be included in this medical paper.

“The whole way along this awful experience I took photographic evidence of my foot and it’s clear as day things were getting progressively worse, but I was ignored.”

For nearly a year Karen visited a string of health professionals, between 24th March 2014 and 2nd March 2015.                            

Eventually the ulcer became so badly infected it cracked her heel bone before the toxic infection of dead tissue and skin known as slough, could no longer be treated with antibiotics. 

Karen, who used to be a nursing home assistant, says: “By this point the infection had broken the bone in my heel. But still there seemed to be no real sense of urgency in treating my condition.

“I had to wait over a week in hospital before I had an MRI scan that I desperately needed and was told my blood tests were all clear. By this point the wound was weeping, smelt and some of the skin had gone black.

“Towards the end of the infection it felt like my foot was on fire and I was being stabbed with a knife. The pain was shooting up my leg every second.

“The pain got so bad that I felt I couldn’t cope anymore and I had to go to hospital. By the time I arrived I was delirious with the infection.

 “When the doctors broke the news to me that I would be waking up without a foot and part of my leg, I was actually relived. It had got so bad I was happy to lose part of my limb.”

Mum to Amiee Lowes, 26 and James Lowes, 20, Karen suffered with on-going pain, headaches, mood swings, tiredness and feeling lethargic during her 11 month ordeal.

After losing her leg in March 2015, Karen became depressed.

Karen adds: “A few weeks after losing my leg, the reality of what I had been through finally hit home.

“It wasn’t just my leg which was taking from me- I had been stripped of my independence too.

“I was so house-proud before and now I can’t do any of usual daily maintenance that I used to take for granted. I can no longer walk from the front door to the car without help from my husband.

“I can’t stand looking at my foot and I find the prosthetic leg too uncomfortable and difficult to wear. I feel like a freak which is hard when I used to take so much pride in my appearance.

“I have been taking anti-depressants now for over six months to cope with the aftermath of what happened to me.

“But I still can’t believe it has got to this.”

Karen has launched legal action against Brighton and Sussex University NHS Trust and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Emma Doughty, specialist clinical negligence lawyer from Slater and Gordon, says: “Karen’s situation could have been easily avoided. This sustained and concerning lack of medical attention resulted in her losing her leg and, as a result, her life being changed forever.

“Karen feels her life will never be the same again and she is devastated at her situation. She can’t help with her grandchildren or keep fit or do any of the things she used to love. She will be affected by what has happened to her for the rest of her life. She feels that her concerns were dismissed and ignored but most significantly, she can’t understand why one of her treating doctors might have included a picture of her foot in his article. She is devastated by this as she feels she could have kept her leg if he had employed his own teachings.”

Karen: “This has affected my life forever. Thank god I have my wonderful husband of four years, Sean, without him I would have given up a long time ago.”