Engineer with horrific hand wound wins payout after hospital sent him home with antibiotics
An engineer left with life-changing injuries after his hand was crushed in a work accident has won a payout after a Birmingham hospital failed to properly treat him.
Heartlands Hospital accepted it did not “recognise the severity” of Jamie Keefe’s wounds after he was left with just 20 per cent use – at best – of his right hand.
The 28-year-old, from Dudley, turned up with a crush injury, puncture wounds and a deep cut to his hand after it slipped into a machine at work in December 2018.
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But he was allowed to leave Heartlands with antibiotics and a follow-up appointment at a fracture clinic after his wound was washed and partially stitched.
Worried by his treatment, he went to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital nearly a week later and it emerged he needed surgery and a skin graft, while dead tissue was found across his hand.
Now he has received a payout from University Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust, which admitted it “failed to recognise the severity” of Jamie’s injury when he first attended hospital.
It acknowledged that washing out and partially closing the wound should not have been performed.
Instead, he should have been admitted, given intravenous antibiotics and had any affected tissue removed. His injury should have been escalated for senior review, the trust added.
Jamie now has around 10 to 20 per cent function in his right hand – said to be much lower less than would have been the case but for the issues in his care.
He struggles to grip tools and has had to change his job, retraining as an electrical engineer.
Jamie said: “My hand was in a mess so I was shocked when I was sent home from hospital with a follow-up appointment.
“When I was at home my hand didn’t seem to be improving and was in a really bad way so I thought it was best to seek another opinion. I couldn’t believe it when I was told the true extent of my injuries and what needed to be done.
“It was difficult being in hospital in the lead-up to Christmas. When everyone else was getting on with life and enjoying themselves I was worrying about my hand and the future.
“The hardest thing to accept is how life has changed. Even simple things like trying to fasten a button on a shirt or a zip on a coat are really difficult.
“I know nothing can ever make up for what’s happened and the last few years but it’s reassuring I can continue with my recovery. It means I can try to look to the future rather than dwell on the past. It means Christmas will be a lot better this year.
“By speaking out I just hope others don’t have to go through what I have.”
Jamie won an undisclosed settlement from the trust – after instructing expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care – and the trust also issued an apology to him.
A spokesperson for the trust said: “The Trust is sorry for not recognising the severity of Mr Keefe’s injury.
“We hope this settlement will support further treatment and rehabilitation for Mr Keefe’s improved hand function.”
Jennifer Shipley, the expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Jamie, added: “The last few years and trying to come to terms with how his injuries have impacted upon Jamie’s life have been incredibly difficult for him.
“He has vastly reduced function in his right hand – his dominant hand – meaning not only has he been forced to give up the job he loved but also struggles to carry out tasks most people take for granted.
“While nothing can make up for what he has been through we welcome the trust’s admission and apology, allowing Jamie to access the specialist support he requires.
“However, it’s also vital that lessons are learned to improve patient safety for others.”
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