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Causes of amputation - medical negligence

A large proportion of amputations that are carried out in the UK are caused by circulatory problems and nerve damage that could have been prevented. 

At Stephensons, we understand that the loss of a limb through amputation can have a devastating impact on life, for both you and your loved ones.

There are many causes for amputations and they are carried out for a variety of medical reasons. Listed below are some of the different ways that tissues within the body can be damaged to the point that amputation may be necessary.

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A complication of diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder and a common life-long health condition that causes blood sugar levels to become abnormal.

Abnormal blood sugar levels can harm the nerves and blood vessels in your body, particularly those nerves and vessels in your extremities, such as your hands and feet. Diabetes can therefore result in the blood supply to your extremities being reduced, meaning infections can occur and amputation may be required to avoid it spreading.

Nerve damage can also reduce sensation in your extremities, meaning that injuries can occur and damage such as ulcers can develop without you realising. Additionally, such injuries can take longer to heal and are more likely to become infected.

Early diagnosis and treatment is key, therefore, if you have received inappropriate care for your diabetes and this has caused you to require an amputation, Stephensons may be able to assist you in investigating a case of medical negligence.

Disease and serious infections

There are a variety of different diseases and infections that can damage body tissues.

Peripheral artery disease is an example of a common condition whereby there is a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries that leads to hardened blood vessels, meaning that there is a restricted blood supply reaching tissues in the body’s extremities. Due to this lack of blood supply, these tissues can die and in extreme cases amputation may be required.

Buerger's disease is an example of a rare condition where blood vessels become restricted, which, in some cases can lead to gangrene, infection and subsequently amputation. Therefore, it is extremely important that you receive early and affective medical treatment to help prevent amputation.

Serious skin infections such as necrotising fasciitis or an infection of the bone such as osteomyelitis can lead to amputation if not treated early.

Early diagnosis and treatment is key, therefore, if you have received a delay in diagnosis of such a disease or infection that has caused you to require an amputation, you may have a claim for clinical negligence.

Traumatic injury

Amputation may be essential if a limb has suffered from a traumatic injury. Whilst amputation can be caused from a number of accident and injuries, it is also important to recognise that early diagnosis and recognition of such an injury is paramount to ensure that there is not a failure after such an injury has occurred, to recognise compromised vascular supply to the injured limb.


Whilst cancer can also affect tissues within the body, the main reason for amputation is to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the body. Amputation can be required if cancer is affecting the skin such as malignant melanoma, or if the cancer is within the bone such as a form of osteosarcoma. Therefore, it is important to receive urgent medical attention and a timely diagnosis to prevent the need for amputation.

If you have suffered from a delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis of limb cancer or even a wrong site amputation or surgical error then you may be entitled to compensation to enable you to adjust to life after the loss of a limb and to help you get the support and rehabilitation you need.

At Stephensons, our clinical negligence team has a wealth of experience in successfully pursuing such compensation claims on behalf of clients who have suffered at the hands of negligence. If you have had to undergo an amputation as a result of inappropriate care received, please contact one of our specialist solicitors who will be able to offer some initial guidance on 01616 966 229, alternatively complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.   

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