Ciaran’s Story: Support after negligence lead to leg amputation

3 minute read

Ciaran, who is now 55 and lives in Folkestone, had a rare spinal condition, lipomyelomeningocele (a fatty mass on the spinal cord). He had undergone several operations but was left with little feeling in his legs. So when, on a cold night, he used a hot water bottle, he didn’t realise that is foot was lying against it or that it was burning his ankle. The next day he was puzzled to find that a wound on his ankle had bled. He realised it was probably a burn and went to his local Emergency Department. They sent him home with advice to contact his GP.

His wife contacted his GP and over the next 3 weeks, the wound was managed by district nurses, his GP and practice nurse. Although it was clear from his records that they knew it to be a burn, none of them followed the local burns guidelines which required an urgent referral to the specialist Burns Unit. As a result, the wound got worse. Even then it was a month before he was referred.

By the time he was seen at the Burns Unit, the wound was much worse. Over a period of 18 months, it was managed by plastic surgeons and nurses. It became infected and he had numerous hospital admissions and episodes of sepsis. Within 9 months infection had spread into the bone (osteomyelitis) and he ultimately had to have his leg amputated below the knee.

Following the amputation

The following years were a struggle. His stump was bulbous, and his prosthetics did not fit. He underwent three operations to refashion the stump. He spent much of his time in a wheelchair. He was living in a two-storey house, which resulted in him having to shuffle up and down the stairs on his backside. He could only access the bathroom on his hands and knees because his wheelchair would not fit. He could just about get his wheelchair into the kitchen but tended to bruise his knuckles doing so. As a result, he spent most of the next five years confined to sitting in the living room.

He became reliant on his wife and daughters for support at home with what would normally be simple tasks.

Because of his spinal condition, he had not been able to work, but he became very limited in what he could do. He used to work as a volunteer coastguard and had been involved in 6 major rescues. But without an all-terrain wheelchair, he could no longer get over the rough ground to the look-out point.

Ciaran’s claim was contested

Despite supportive evidence from various medical experts, his claim was strongly contested. However, a couple of months before trial, the Defendants agreed to discuss settlement and we were able to resolve his claim. He recovered substantial damages.

His wish was to move to a more suitable house where he can access all the rooms, use the kitchen, bathroom and toilet without difficulty. He also wanted to have better prosthetics and be more mobile. He would like to be able to get out and about, have the odd pint at his local pub, go to Canterbury to watch cricket and take the Eurostar to Paris.

He will now be able to do all those things. He is in the process of buying a bungalow locally, which will make life much easier. A claim can’t turn back the clock but damages can make life a lot easier.

Ciaran’s wife Tricia discussed their appreciation for how Paul Sankey and his team at Enable Law were able to support them.

“Ciaran appointed Enable Law after having had a very negative experience with medical treatment which resulted in a right leg amputation. His case was very complex and required a solicitor who was not only experienced but had an extremely high success rate for his clients. Paul Sankey and his team were nothing less than superb with this brief and worked tirelessly for a positive outcome. Nothing was too much trouble and throughout the process, Ciaran was informed at every step as to what may need to be examined, looked at and actioned. Paul was always professional, transparent, courteous and kind in his dealings with Ciaran. This meant so much and when it came to a final and satisfactory settlement recently, Ciaran had every faith in his advice. Ciaran is forever thankful to Paul and his diligent team at Enable Law.”Tricia

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