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Why are vascular referrals so important?

1 February 2024

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Caitlin Sykes from the Clinical Negligence Department reviews the importance of prompt vascular referrals for suspected limb ischemia following the case of DS v Dr S and Dr K (2023).

The Claimant in this case, a 39-year-old woman, received a total of £2,263,063 compensation for the loss of her lower limb due to a delayed vascular referral for acute onset right lower limb ischaemia.

The Claimant underwent a below knee amputation that was deemed avoidable had she received the appropriate clinical care from her General Practitioners (GP).

The Claimant presented to her GP on several occasions with swelling, leg pain, and cramps in her effected leg in November 2016. However, her GP did not correctly refer her to the vascular team until February 2017, despite her showing symptoms of acute onset lower limb ischaemia.

Sadly, the Claimant developed sepsis and subsequently required a below knee amputation and was left to reply upon a prosthesis for the rest of her life.

Why vascular referrals are so important

This case demonstrates how the failure of a GP to refer a patient promptly to the vascular team can have devastating consequences. Acute limb ischaemia is a rapid decrease in the lower limb blood flow, this is due to acute occlusion of the arteries in the leg. In other words, fatty deposits build up in the arteries restricting blood flow to the leg muscles. You are more at risk of this if you have diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol.  The prognosis for this is often poor unless quick and appropriate treatment is given.

Symptoms of critical limb ischemia are:

  • Pain or numbness in the feet
  • Shiny, smooth, dry skin of the legs or feet
  • Thickening of the toenails
  • Diminished pulse in the legs or feet
  • Open sores, skin infections, or ulcers that will not heal
  • Dry gangrene

These symptoms are something a GP should recognise as potentially being indicative of critical limb ischaemia. Should the GP believe a patient could have critical limb ischaemia, the NICE Guidelines state the person should be urgently referred to a vascular multidisciplinary team for further review.

How can True help?

If you believe that you have undergone a delay in diagnosis or treatment for critical limb ischemia, you may be entitled to compensation.

Our solicitors dealing with medical negligence claims are based at our Newcastle head office but can assist anyone in living in England and Wales with their case.

We offer our clients:

  • A free initial, no-obligation assessment
  • No Win, No Fee agreements
  • Expertise in handling complicated clinical negligence cases

Our team of expert lawyers will be able to tell you whether you may have a case against your healthcare provider and can also advise you of the process should you wish to pursue a claim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Please Note: Estimate amounts are guidelines only. Your injury and recovery are as individual as you are. The amounts are guideline amounts only and any settlement will be based upon the evidence of medical practitioners.
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