Leg Amputation Complaint- Queensland Medical Rights Solicitors

LAWYER HELPLINE: 07 3613 7325


If you think that you have received inadequate or negligent medical treatment resulting in leg amputation, our solicitors will be able to assist you in making a complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland. Our QLD based solicitors deal with health care complaints on a ‘pro bono’ basis and will not make any charge to you for advice on how to make a complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman. A complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman in QLD is not a medical negligence compensation claim and will not result in the payment of compensation but may assist you in further understanding what went wrong and why you were treated in the way that has caused you concern. There are a number of possible outcomes and the Queensland Office of the Health Ombudsman may be able to obtain a more full explanation of the circumstances of any alleged negligence or may give you more details about the treatment that you have received.

Leg Amputation

A leg amputation can be traumatic or surgical and secondary to disease in the leg. Some amputations are surgically performed because a leg has become severely crushed in an accident and can’t be repaired properly. The most common amputation is a leg amputation and can be either above or below the knee.

The reasons for a leg amputation can be poor circulation to the leg because of hardening of the arteries and cholesterol deposits in the arteries leading to the feet. A motor vehicle accident or an accident in which the leg is severely burned can result in a leg amputation. If there is a cancer in the leg, it may need to be amputated. If there is a serious infection in the leg, there can be a secondary leg amputation. If a person has a neuroma that can’t be removed, the leg is amputated to save the person the pain. Frostbite can lead to an amputation if it is severe enough.

If there is a problem with the lower leg, a surgical amputation needs to be done. In such cases, the patient must stay in the hospital for up to two weeks, depending on the overall health of the patient and any complications they may have. It is a procedure done under general anesthesia or with spinal anesthesia if the patient is too ill or old to tolerate general anesthesia. All the damaged tissue is removed so that only healthy, viable tissue remains. Good pulses must exist in the area that the cut is made and the skin must be warm and must appear viable. Before going under anesthesia, the surgeon assesses the ability of the patient to actually feel touch at the level of the surgical amputation.

In the procedure, jagged edges of bone are smoothed out and crushed bone is removed. Blood vessels and nerves are sealed off in the good part of the leg. Muscles will be shaped in order to form the end of the amputation so that a prosthetic leg part can be attached to the stump. The skin is then closed in a closed amputation. Sometimes the surgeon leaves the skin opened in case more tissue needs to be removed later after a few days.

There may be drainage tubes placed to collect fluid and these are affixed to the leg stump using a stocking and bandages. A splint or traction is used to hold the rest of the leg in place until it heals further. The dressings are changed every day or so or when they get soiled with drainage. Medications are used for pain and for prevention of infection. There may be phantom limb pain and emotional grief because of the loss of one’s leg.

Physical therapy begins early and starts with gentle, stretching exercises. By 2 to 3 weeks out of surgery, the patient may receive his or her first prosthetic device and will begin to ambulate on the device. The wound usually completely heals in 4-8 weeks. The long term process of recovery includes the following activities:

  • Activities to restore independence
  • Exercises to increase muscle strength
  • Exercises to improve control of the leg
  • Activities to help use assistive devices if necessary
  • Emotional support and therapy if necessary to help in adjusting to the new situation

Amputations are quite common and, as mentioned, most are due to a lack of circulation to the legs, particularly in diabetic patients. There are around 130,000-140,000 amputations performed each year. Some of these are secondary to trauma, such as a car accident, crush injury on the job or traumatic injury in war situations.

There are multiple types of lower extremity amputations, ranging from just a few toes to a high thigh amputation. These include:

  • Amputation of toes
  • Partial foot amputation
  • Syme’s amputation of the ankle
  • Below the knee amputation, a BKA
  • Disarticulation of the knee
  • Above the knee amputation, an AKA
  • Van-ness amputation in which the foot is turned around and attached at the knee joint
  • Disarticulation of the hip
  • Hindquarter amputation, also called a hemipelvectomy

Interestingly, there have been several people in recent times who amputated their own leg in various places after the leg got caught or crushed at different levels. In such cases, ordinary pocket knives were used to amputate the leg by the person themselves. Overall they did well, despite the traumatic nature of their injury.

In traumatic leg amputations, the leg doesn’t have to be amputated in order for the surgeon to perform an amputation. Traumatic car accidents can crush a leg so that it can’t possibly heal. The leg can be partially amputated so that it needs to be completed by surgeons in trauma surgery. This can happen if a person is using a table saw or other kind of electrical saw. Depending on how much of the leg is amputated in the injury, the rest of the leg may not be saved.

In traumatic amputations, the blood loss can be so severe that the patient is at risk of death due to exsanguination. This is why the first thing the doctors do is ligate (close off) the artery and main veins before proceeding to the rest of the amputation.

Traumatic amputations can happen as a result of an accident and can happen at the time of the accident. They can also happen days after the accident when it becomes clear that the leg won’t survive. In order of highest to lowest, the causes of traumatic amputations include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Labor accidents, such as equipment, chain saws and wood machines
  • Agricultural accidents, such as mowers and other machines
  • Electrical shock incidents
  • Guns, explosives, fireworks, dynamite
  • Amputations from car doors, automatic
  • Violent rupture of ship rope or industrial rope

HELPLINE: 07 3613 7325