Judgment was handed down today in the case of Patricia Austin v South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust following a seven-day trial on liability heard in June.
Mrs Austin underwent amputation of her right arm at the shoulder after developing necrotising fasciitis in August 2012. The Claimant was seen by a paramedic employed by the Defendant during the course of the evening of 9 August 2012, following a 999 call made by her daughter. The Claimant alleged that at the time of that assessment Mrs Austin was experiencing excruciating pain in her upper right arm, was unwell and had suffered a collapse associated with an episode of incontinence. The paramedic declined to take Mrs Austin to the nearby Stoke Mandeville Hospital having concluded that she was suffering from a tendon injury in her arm and a coincidental episode of gastroenteritis. By the time that Mrs Austin was admitted to Hospital at 06.15 hours on 10 August 2012 she had developed discolouration of her arm and had clear signs of sepsis/toxic shock. During the course of the morning she lost power in her arm, which then became floppy. Mrs Austin was diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis at 15.00 hours that afternoon and underwent amputation of her right arm at the shoulder at about 17.00 hours
Mr Geoffrey Tattersall QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge concluded that the paramedic had been in breach of duty in not transferring Mrs Austin to hospital, accepting the evidence of Mrs Austin’s daughter as to her condition at the time of the assessment and rejecting the description contained within the paramedic’s written note. Having heard the evidence of seven experts on causation and rejecting the evidence of four experts for the Defendant he concluded that had Mrs Austin been admitted to hospital following the assessment by the paramedic she would have been diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis within six hours following that admission and would have avoided amputation of her arm.
Click here to read the full judgement.
The Claimant was represented by Richard Baker of 7BR, the Defendant was represented by Bradley Martin QC.