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Woman faces disability after Worthing Hospital missed broken heel
9:00am Thursday 22nd August 2013 in News
A woman may be left permanently disabled after accident and emergency staff diagnosed her broken heel as a bad sprain.
Bosses at Worthing Hospital have launched an investigation into the incident after Lesley Harrison made a formal complaint.
Ms Harrison is now waiting to hear whether she will need surgery on her damaged right foot, which could lead to its movement from side to side being restricted.
The 45-year-old, of Portland Road, Hove, went to Worthing's A&E in March when she hurt her foot falling off a step ladder.
Staff x-rayed the foot and said it was not broken but was just a very bad sprain.
Ms Harrison, who works as a catering supervisor, said: “I was in absolute agony but I was relieved to hear it wasn't broken.
“However over the next few weeks I was still in constant pain and the swelling was not going down. However as I thought it was just a sprain, I believed I just had to wait until it healed over time.
“I ended up having to take five weeks off work because I spend a lot of time on my feet with my job.”
After weeks of the pain not easing, Ms Harrison visited the Royal Sussex County Hospital A&E in Brighton and was referred back to her GP because the injury was an old one.
A follow-up X-ray at the Hove Polyclinic revealed she had suffered a broken heel which had now healed in the wrong position.
Ms Harrison said: “I'm on strong painkillers and am now having to take even more time off work which is adding to the stress.
“I live in a first floor flat so getting out and about is also difficult.
“I'm really angry this injury was not picked up more quickly in the first place because then it could have been dealt with properly straight away and I might not be having these problems now.
“At least now I know it is going to be dealt with but obviously I'm concerned about the possibility of surgery.
“It is very upsetting and worrying.”
Ms Harrison said she would consider taking legal action in the future if necessary.
Cathy Stone, director of nursing and patient safety at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is not appropriate for me to discuss the circumstances of an individual patient's care in public, but whenever we know that someone is unhappy with their treatment we ensure their concerns are thoroughly investigated by a senior clinician.
“We also write to the patient with our findings and offer to discuss them in person.
“We already have a robust system of review in place for all X-rays taken for patients in A&E, which are routinely examined by a consultant at a later date.
“If there is any concern over the original diagnosis, we contact the patient immediately and ask them to come back for further investigation.”
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