Man shocked after ‘unnecessary’ double amputation

Walter Watson signed amputation consent form but claims he was in no fit state to do so. Picture: SWNS
Walter Watson signed amputation consent form but claims he was in no fit state to do so. Picture: SWNS
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A pensioner is suing the NHS for amputating both of his legs, claiming the surgery was unnecessary.

Walter Watson, 69, has branded the ordeal “an absolute bloody nightmare”.

I felt fit so was shocked to find half of me was missing

Walter Watson

Mr Watson, who was admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary after he developed an infection from ulcers in his legs, said he was shocked to wake up after an operation to discover surgeons had removed his legs.

The pensioner had been receiving treatment for an ongoing vascular problem at the outpatient clinic at the hospital since 2007.

But on 6 March 2013 he was admitted to the emergency unit at the hospital to be treated for an infection and just over a month later he underwent ­surgery, during which his legs were amputated.

Mr Watson, from Aberdeen, said: “I was so ill from infection that I didn’t know I had signed off on the amputation.

“I woke up feeling fresh and healthy one day after treatment and I was so shocked to find that half of me was missing.

“You can’t even imagine what it’s like to wake up one day without your legs. You have to re-learn everything – I can’t even get comfortable in bed anymore.

“It’s all been an absolute bloody nightmare. Everything is so much more difficult. I’m mostly housebound now.

“I was quite happy before all of this and had been enjoying my retirement. I liked travelling abroad with my wife, but that’s no longer possible for us.”

Thompsons Solicitors obtained reports from two independent experts, which claimed that at least three other treatments should have been tried before amputation was considered. These included different skin and artery grafts. Mr Watson said he wishes these had been considered or presented to him as potential options.

He said: “These vascular experts were absolutely aghast that this had happened – in their ­report they kept asking why this had happened. When I started digging into it a bit more I felt it all was just so farcical.

“The consultant I was seeing refused to believe it was a vascular problem even when it was clear from all the black ulcers on my legs. It was completely heartbreaking because there was no way that my legs should have been amputated.

“The effort involved in shifting myself onto a wheelchair is so exhausting. I finally got a motorised wheelchair after I kept complaining for about six months. The woman working at the NHS was very rude to me and kept insisting I did not qualify for one.”

Mr Watson’s lawyer, Nicola Kelly from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “What happened to Walter is absolutely heartbreaking. It would be terribly traumatic for anyone to go through this, but to also know that the amputation was avoidable is just beyond belief.

“Our experts are quite clear, if a different course had been followed by doctors this amputation would not have happened.”

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman confirmed that legal action was underway, but refused to comment further on this specific case. She insisted that the health service offered “a high standard of care”.

She said: “We can confirm legal action is underway; as such it would be inappropriate to comment on this specific case.

“Speaking generally, we recognise amputation is a traumatic and life-changing procedure. We do our utmost to prevent our vascular patients reaching the point where amputation is necessary. If amputation is the only option, we are absolutely committed to returning the patient to an independent life.

“Rehab visits take place in the home prior to the procedure taking place.”