Grantham mum lost leg after NHS Trust admits 'failures in her care'
A brave Grantham mum-of-three, whose leg was amputated after a catalogue of medical blunders, has spoken for the first time following a three-year battle for justice.
Lorraine Brewin is now starting to rebuild her life after United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted 'failures in her care' following a routine operation to remove varicose veins from her left leg in January 2009 led to the amputation.
The 46-year-old said: "The last three years have been the most upsetting and physically painful of my life and the fact that the amputation could so easily have been avoided, had I received the right care, is something I don't think I'll ever get over.
"Before the surgery I was fit and healthy apart from the varicose veins but I've been wheelchair bound ever since."
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Lorraine expected to leave Grantham Hospital a day after the routine operation.
But, instead, started to suffer a dangerous build up of blood in her leg – called compartment syndrome.
Once doctors realised the serious problem Lorraine was transferred to Lincoln County Hospital for more surgery.
But further delays and a lack of physiotherapy meant she had to have the lower part of her left leg removed.
Specialist medical law and patient rights experts Irwin Mitchell have secured the former factory worker a six-figure interim payment so she can move into a specially-adapted bungalow.
Lorraine, who has been supported through her ordeal by her husband Dave, struggles to wear a prosthetic leg due to blisters and swelling and is reliant on a wheelchair to get out and about.
She will also require knee replacement surgery in the future as the cartilage between her knee and leg bone of her amputated leg has been damaged by severe arthritis.
Lorraine relies on a carer who helps her with jobs around the house and getting out, but is looking forward to starting the process of rebuilding her life.
"My whole life has changed and it took a while for all of us to accept the situation and I often feel that more of me is missing than just my leg.
"It's depressing being stuck at home while David is at work full time and I miss working too.
"I'm in pain and uncomfortable all the time and have terrible nightmares about what I've been through.
"I feel like I've lost my independence too and although my family help care for me it's not been easy for any of us.
"It's a huge relief the settlement has now been agreed because moving into a new specially-adapted house will be a fresh start for all of us and more suitable for my needs.
"A new home will help me regain my confidence and independence and make me feel more like the old Lorraine again.
"I just hope the hospital trust has learnt from their mistakes so other patients don't have to go through what my family and I have in future," she added.
Zoe Brodrick, of Irwin Mitchell, is representing Lorraine in her ongoing battle to secure the funds she needs to live as normal a life as possible.
She said: "Lorraine is likely to suffer constant pain and discomfort for the rest of her life as a result of the avoidable errors at the hospitals where she received treatment.
"She is reliant on a wheelchair and is facing an ongoing struggle to adapt to her new life as well as coming to terms with the fact that had she received the correct treatment and after care the amputation could so easily have been avoided.
"Despite this Lorraine is relieved the trust has now accepted full responsibility for the failures in her care, though she is frustrated that it has taken three years for them to do so.
"We hope that lessons have been learnt by the trust to prevent other patients suffering from similar mistakes in the future."
Lorraine's lawyers say United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust - responsible for Grantham and Lincoln County hospitals - has admitted it not only failed to spot that she was suffering from compartment syndrome but also to act on it for eight hours which made the condition worse.
It has also admitted that Lincoln County Hospital did not offer her any physiotherapy or a splint for her left foot for three months which led to further damage to the tendons in her calf and heel and a painful condition called 'dropped foot,' where her foot became twisted and she lost the movement over her ankle and toes.
"The last three years have been harrowing and frustrating for Lorraine and it shows how common operations like this to remove varicose veins can go terribly wrong if staff are not diligent enough following surgery.
"Her bravery and determination to battle for answers and justice in spite of her suffering has been truly admirable.
"We will continue to work with the trust to ensure that Lorraine receives access to the necessary care, rehabilitation and equipment she needs to move forward with her life as best she can under the circumstances," added Mrs Brodrick.
No one from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust was available for comment.