FORMER Selkirk rugby star Mick McColm has won a lengthy court bid for compensation after his broken leg became infected with the hospital superbug MRSA and had to be amputated below the knee.
Ten years after he broke his leg and nine years after it was amputated, a sheriff has ruled the then Borders General Hospital NHS Trust was negligent and said the health authority must pay 102,000 in compensation. Mr McColm smashed his right leg in a quad bike accident in August 1997. After treatment by surgeons at Borders General Hospital, which included a metal pin being inserted, the leg became infected.
MRSA was confirmed on October 8 the same year. The bug was resistant to antibiotics which had been prescribed for McColm.
More treatment followed for the wound and the fracture, but by April 1988, Mr McColm, of Fairnilee, near Clovenfords, was still unwell and he was seen by a specialist professor at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The professor took over the treatment, but said from the outset that he was pessimistic the leg could be saved.
A court hearing was told that on April 28, 1998, Mr Colm had a grossly infected lower tibia with three sinuses pouring pus. On August 18 – exactly a year since the quad bike crash – the farmer had the leg amputated below the knee. He was fitted with a false leg, but was left unable to run or walk more than 100 yards.
Court findings published this week reveal Mr McColm is less able to work on the family farm and now undertakes more domestic chores after re-arranging duties with his wife.
The court was told he regretted his reduced opportunities for physical forms of play with his children as they grew up – although his general attitude to his treatment, amputation and subsequent problems had been stoic.
Sheriff Jamie Gilmour has ruled that there was a breach of duty by one consultant orthopaedic surgeon and negligence by two other surgeons who treated Mr McColm at the BGH.
He also ruled that on the balance of probability, the amputation would not have been necessary but for the negligence of two of the surgeons in failing to treat the MRSA infection.
Sheriff Gilmour ruled that amputation was caused by the fault and negligence of Borders General Hospital NHS Trust – the body that Mr MColm had sued as being responsible for the acts or omissions of its employees.
The sheriff stated: “There was a negligent failure to deal with the infection between October 13, 1997, and January 20, 1998, and I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there is a link between that negligence and the subsequent below-the-knee amputation of the leg.”
Sheriff Gilmour’s judgement was given at Selkirk Sheriff Court this week after a number of earlier hearings at which medical staff were among witnesses who gave evidence.