A woman, Magdalena Malec, has lost her two legs and an arm after a hospital, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, failed to give a correct diagnosis of her ailment. The 31-year-old mother-of-two had been suffering from sepsis which had not been noticed. She also needed a kidney transplant to save her life after being admitted with an ectopic pregnancy.
Magdalena, who is mum to Paulina, nine, and Severin, seven, discovered she was pregnant with her third child in December 2014. But she and her partner, Robert, were devastated to be told just weeks later that she had suffered a miscarriage. She continued suffering from heavy bleeding and stomach cramps, but was sent home from A&E with painkillers and anti-sickness tablets. She returned to the hospital on Christmas Day and was finally told she’d suffered an ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb and requires urgent surgery to remove the affected fallopian tube and unviable foetus.
But while in recovery, Magdalena developed extensive limb ischaemia, which became gangrenous and caused her body tissue to die. She later learned it was caused by a loss of blood supply due to medical staff not recognising the classical warning signs for sepsis and failing to follow their own sepsis protocol.
Magdalena had to wait six months for surgery to amputate her limbs, and had to return to hospital three times a week for dialysis, with each session lasting up to four hours. During this time, her relationship with Robert also broke down due to the pressures of her disabilities.
The NHS has apologised unreservedly for missing all of the classic signs of sepsis that Magdalena was experiencing, and accepts the outcome could have been avoided.
Magdalena has already received an interim payment to help alleviate her financial hardship, but she is expected to receive a further payout in due course.
Her lawyer David Thomas, Clinical Negligence Partner at Simpson Millar solicitors, said: “The catastrophic chain of events which led to Magdalena’s near death and horrendous injuries were completely avoidable if the hospital Trust had followed its own sepsis protocol.
“There were a number of missed opportunities or ‘red flags’ which were not acted upon until it was too late.
“If diagnosed early enough, sepsis is easily treated with antibiotics but despite recent awareness campaigns, mistakes such as this are still happening. It’s tragic.”
A spokesman for Luton & Dunstable University Hospital added: “There were missed opportunities to recognise the progressive clinical deterioration of Ms Malec and act accordingly, including the timely administration of antibiotics.