Copyright (c) 2012 Julie Glynn
Having the wrong limb or other body part amputated will cause considerable trauma to a patient. But is there anything that can be done to recompense for the pain and suffering caused? Can you take legal action? And is it possible to claim compensation?
How Does Wrong Amputation Happen?
Before an operation, a patient will usually have their skin marked with a pen, indicating to the operating team where the surgery is to be performed. However, there are occasions in which a patient is marked up wrongly. For example, a left testicle is marked, but in fact it is the right testicle which needs to be removed. This may happen because a member of the healthcare team did not pay close enough attention to the medical notes or had a lapse in concentration, or because there were conflicting instructions in the medical notes. Furthermore, we have seen cases in which a patient was correctly marked prior to surgery, but still suffered wrong-site amputation.
What Action Can You Take?
If you have had the wrong body part amputated, it is vital you take urgent action as soon as you are aware of the error. This may be shortly after you come round from the anaesthetic, or it may be some time after the operation. The latter is particularly common in patients who have had internal surgery, as they will only realise the mistake has been made when their health problems persist. For example, if the wrong kidney is amputated, a patient may only suspect something is amiss if their ill health continues even after surgical treatment.
When you do discover that you have been the victim of wrong amputation, you should make an official complaint to the healthcare service in question. This will ensure your treatment is fully investigated. You will then be sent a detailed response by the hospital explaining why you suffered at the hand of medical staff.
Your next step should be to contact a legal expert. Amputating the wrong body part amounts to a serious breach of duty, meaning the medical professionals treating you provided a substandard level of care. Any patient injured as a result of such poor levels of care is legally entitled to make a medical negligence claim. This will allow you to obtain compensation for the pain and suffering the negligent amputation caused you – this relates to both physical and psychological injury. You can also recover any expenses you have lost as a direct result of the terrible mistake, such as a loss of earnings.
Contact a Solicitor Today
If you have had the wrong body part amputated, do not delay in seeking advice from a legal expert. Medical negligence claims are restricted by certain time limits, so it is essential to speak to a solicitor as soon as you are aware of the mistake.
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