Woman who had three limbs amputated after tiny cut on finger sues medical practice over 'delays'

A Fife woman who went to the doctor with a 1cm papercut on her finger and ended up having both legs, an arm, and several fingers amputated is suing the GP practice over alleged breaches which led to delays in treatment.

Friday, 25th March 2022, 4:47 pm
Updated Friday, 25th March 2022, 4:57 pm
Marguerite Henderson.

Marguerite Henderson’s court action against Benarty Medical Practice alleges that the delays in turn led to the action of the life-changing amputations due to sepsis in February 2018.

The incident happened during the Beast From the East, cold spell and storm which brought a huge amount of snow to Scotland.

The dispute revolves around whether a scheduled appointment on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, to have the cut examined was cancelled by Mrs Henderson or by a receptionist at the practice.

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The Court of Session heard Mrs Henderson first noticed a small paper cut with a blue spot on it on Sunday, February 25, 2018, and after it didn't go away, she called the practice on Monday 26th for an appointment the following day.

However, she woke the next day feeling flu-like symptoms and told the Benarty practice she felt too unwell to attend and a new appointment was made for the next day.

But when morning of February 28 came, her condition had deteriorated and she was unable to get out of bed. Later in the morning the GP surgery called to ask if Mrs Henderson still intended to go to her appointment that afternoon, as enquiries were being made because of the severe weather conditions.

Mrs Henderson gave evidence saying that she still needed the appointment while the receptionist later claimed that she had wished to cancel.

During a later call to the practice in the afternoon, Mr Henderson explained that she had pain in her right arm and a tightness in her chest. A receptionist told her that all the doctors had already left to travel home due to the adverse snowy weather conditions.

Later, when Mrs Henderson received a phonecall from one of the practice’s doctors, she was advised to call the out-of-hours service later in the evening.

But rather than wait any longer, Mrs Henderson’s family members took her straight to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, where doctors diagnosed sepsis and worked to save her limbs.However, on April 3, 2018 she underwent a left forearm amputation along with amputation of the fingers and part of the thumb of her right hand. The following week she had both legs amputated below the knee.

In examining the case, Lady Wise, said that it was likely that the receptionist’s evidence, stating that Mrs Henderson cancelled the appointment herself, was more believable.Lady Wise said that while Mrs Henderson may be convinced that the recollection of the telephone call she gave was accurate, her account is based “wishful thinking”.She continued: “Her ordeal has been prolonged and her determination to pursue those she deems responsible for any delay in having her condition diagnosed and treated is understandable and appropriate. Her account of the call is, however, simply not tenable when examined in the context of other unchallenged evidence.”Lady Wise added: “I will have the case called By Order to address any outstanding issues before pronouncing final decree.”

The case will be continued at a future date.