Poor medical care in the management of patients suffering from diabetes can lead to complications which at the most severe level can result in limb amputations, most usually of the foot. Where there has been poor management, leading to severe consequences for the diabetes sufferer, including amputation, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation.

diabetes mis-management

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that causes too high a level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. Since the body cannot use the glucose properly the person with the condition suffers harm as a result.

After eating, the body breaks down carbohydrates from the food in our stomach, into glucose. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin which moves glucose from the blood into cells, where it provides the fuel for those cells to work properly. When someone has diabetes the process of glucose moving from the blood into cells breaks down. As the body needs to obtain energy from somewhere, in diabetics it starts to break down fat and protein.

There are 2 types of diabetes of which Type 1 is the less common. It tends to develop early in life – usually in childhood. It can develop later in life but invariably before someone reaches the age of 40. The body attacks the cells which produce insulin. Without insulin to move glucose into the cells, levels of blood sugar rise. The condition is treated by the patient leading a sensible, healthy lifestyle, thereby controlling through diet and physical activity, but also by the use of a daily dose of insulin, either by means of injections or a pump.

Type 2 diabetes is the more common of the conditions, with 90% to 95% of diabetics suffering from it. It normally develops after the age of 40, hence the reason that it used to be called “adult-onset diabetes.”  With type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the insulin does not work as well as it should. Again, levels of sugar in the blood become too high. Type 2 diabetes is also treated with a healthy diet and physical activity which may initially, alone, be sufficient. However Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and in time it may be necessary to use medication.

What are the warning signs of diabetes?

The warning signs of diabetes are;

  • Having to pass urine frequently
  • Thirst
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of weight.

Because glucose is not absorbed, it passes into the urine and tests show high levels of glucose in the urine.


One of the complications of diabetes is poor blood circulation. The legs and feet tend to be particularly affected. Leg ulcers, blisters or cuts can take a long time to heal. Infections can cause serious problems and are difficult to treat. For this reason any diabetic patient with a new foot ulcer or wound should be referred urgently to a specialist multi-disciplinary diabetic foot clinic to make sure they have the best possible management. Tests of their blood glucose levels and to ensure their blood supply is functioning properly should be carried out, as should checks to ensure good care of their feet is being undertaken.

Where Mistakes Can Happen

One of the most common failings in the medical care of diabetics, is when GPs fail to refer patients to specialists correctly. Under NICE guidelines, patients with diabetes who have new foot injuries should be seen by specialists as a matter of urgency. The injury might only be a small cut or blister on the foot. However, because of the risk of infection, they should be treated urgently. The guidelines expect that patients should be sent to multi-disciplinary foot clinics. Often GPs will try to manage patients themselves or rely on district nurses or practice nurses at GPs surgeries to undertake this work for them. However this is insufficient. Blood sugar levels, diabetic control and patients’ blood supplies need to be checked by specialists.

When GPs fail to refer diabetic patients with ulcers or wounds to the appropriate clinics soon enough, serious problems can occur for the diabetic patient. In some of the worst cases where small injuries have got much worse, people have had to undergo amputations.


New analysis from Diabetes UK shows that the number of diabetes related amputations each day is at an all-time level of 20. However experts believe that with good diabetes healthcare 4 out of 5 of those amputations could be avoided as 80% begin as foot ulcers, which could have been avoided had they been treated earlier.

Many people with amputations that have not been properly managed or other complications of diabetes go ahead with No Win No Fee agreements and get what they are legally entitled to. Here at Truth Legal we have specialist solicitors who are able to deal with diabetes amputation claims and they work hard to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

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Catherine Reynolds
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