Patient had leg amputated after botched surgery left material behind

The SPSO instructed NHS Lanarkshire to apologise to the patient, referred to as C to protect their anonymity.

NHS Lanarkshire ordered to apologise after patient was forced to have leg amputated due to failed surgery Getty Images

A patient in Lanarkshire was forced to have their leg amputated after a surgeon failed to fully remove material from the limb during a procedure.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) instructed NHS Lanarkshire to apologise to the patient, referred to as C to protect their anonymity.

Patient C underwent an operation after they broke their leg to insert pins, plates, and a device known as a “TightRope”, where string is passed through a channel in the bone and secured with “buttons” at each side, to stabilise their leg.

They complained that surgery performed to remove material from their leg was not carried out to a reasonable standard.

C developed an infection in their leg and subsequently underwent a further procedure to remove the “TightRope”.

However, the procedure to remove the device was unsuccessful with some material being left in C’s leg and the infection persisting. 

The patient then underwent further procedures to have the material removed completely, however, the infection proved to be too advanced and C was forced to have a below knee amputation.

C complained that the board did not appropriately remove the “TightRope” material during the initial procedure when they should have done.

The NHS board responded to the claims and said that although there was an intention to remove all of the “TightRope”, the material is not always visible.

Staff assumed that they had removed all of the material, however, some of it stayed behind.

The health board said that the only way to have fully confirmed this would have been to make a larger hole through the bone, which could have allowed further spread of the infection.

After discussing the claims with a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, the SPSO upheld the claims made by patient C.

They found that the surgeon who carried out the procedure to remove the “TightRope” should have been familiar with the device, including the volume of material, and should therefore have been able to assess whether removal was complete.

The watchdog noted that an “experienced surgeon” would have undertaken a more complete removal of the material.

The SPSO suggested that the board could consider reviewing their arrangements for supervision of surgeons who are not experienced in a specific procedure.

The NHS board was ordered to apologise to patient C for the failure to carry out the procedure to an acceptable standard.

Judith Park, director of acute services, said: “We appreciate this has been an extremely difficult time for the patient and our sympathies remain with them.

“We fully accept the recommendations and have already written to the patient offering our sincere apologies. The lessons learned will be shared to help avoid similar occurrences in future.”

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