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Amputation claims: recovery after lower limb amputation

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    Every year thousands of patients undergo lower limb amputations but struggle to come to terms with the outcome; a new study looks at patient experience and expectations.

    By Kerstin Kubiak

Many patients are advised of the need to undergo lower limb amputations for a variety of clinical reasons, however there have been few studies looking into the expectations of patients before surgery and their views post operatively. A recent study from the Portsmouth Disablement Services Centre sought to interview patients to identify key factors affecting patients’ rehabilitation.

THE STUDY:

“Expectations of rehabilitation following lower limb amputation: a qualitative study” which was published in September 2013 in the Journal of Disability Rehabilitation, sought to interview 5 patients who were due to undergo lower limb amputation as a result of vascular insufficiency.

The result of the study identified 5 key themes for patients after lower limb amputation:

1. Uncertainty
2. Expectations in relation to the rehabilitation service
3. Personal challenges
4. The prosthesis
5. Returning to normality

The author of the report summarised that: “These findings illustrate how participants faced uncertainty both pre and post operatively and often looked towards established amputees for the provision of accurate information.”

OUTCOMES:

The study highlights critical gaps in NHS care for amputee patients in failing to provide sufficient support and information before and after traumatic surgery. The study highlights an obvious point, that if a patient is ill informed and uncertain it may well lead to anxiety and passivity. The study pointed out that: “Patient information and discussions should form an important part of the rehabilitation process before as well as during prosthetic rehabilitation, to help share realistic expectations. This will allow patients to take a more active, informed role in the process.”

Vascular insufficiency is one of the most common causes for amputation, and this in turn is frequently linked to diabetes.  Medical negligence amputation claims are quite often linked to poor diabetic care and management, therefore it is critical to ensure proper care is provided in endeavouring to avoid this outcome.

OUR EXPERIENCE

As medical negligence solicitors we encounter patients who have felt very let down, not only due to the fact that an amputation was required, but also due to the poor level of preparation prior to and support following their surgery. We frequently see clients who have required a life-changing lower-limb amputation and then, quite understandably, have significant struggles to come to terms with their amputation and use of prosthetic aids.  Through a medical negligence claim we can assist them with ensuring they have not only the best quality aids and prosthesis, but also crucial support at a very difficult time.

Having a sense of autonomy and support in maintaining a positive outlook is vital for many patients, to avoid difficulties in coming to terms with losing a limb. It is hoped that further research can be undertaken into this key area so that patients can be better supported in future.

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