A FORMER lift engineer from Dudley who suffered life-changing hand injuries after being incorrectly discharged from hospital has told of his determination to look to the future.

Jamie Keefe sustained a crushing injury, puncture wounds and a deep cut to his right hand when it slipped into a machine at work.

The 28-year-old was sent home from Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, with an appointment to attend the fracture clinic when staff “failed to recognise the severity” of his injury, hospital bosses admitted.

Around a week later Jamie attended another hospital appointment and underwent a procedure to remove dead tissue from his hand with a skin graft taken from his thigh to replace the tissue. He spent a number of days in hospital and was discharged on Christmas Day.

He now has around 10 to 20 per cent function in his right hand, he struggles to grip tools and has had to change job.

Jamie Keefe

Jamie Keefe

After instructing expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, the Trust admitted liability and apologised to Jamie for the mistakes in his care.

Three years on, Jamie has spoken of his determination to look to the future after his legal team at Irwin Mitchell secured an undisclosed settlement to fund ongoing specialist rehabilitation and treatment for his injuries.

Jennifer Shipley, expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Jamie, said: “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.”

Jamie attended Heartlands Hospital on December 11, 2018. After his wound was washed out and partially stitched up, he was sent home with antibiotics and booked in for a follow-up review at the fracture clinic three days later.

Concerned by his care Jamie called the 111 service for support and attended Queen Elizabeth Hospital on December 17.

He was admitted after staff discovered he had a significant patch of dead tissue across his hand. He underwent surgery the following day and was put on antibiotics. On December 20, he then had a skin graft taken from his thigh, and he was allowed home on Christmas Day 2018.

Dudley News: The hand injury after the skin graft as it healed, and when it first happened on December 11The hand injury after the skin graft as it healed, and when it first happened on December 11

Despite the treatment and a number of therapy sessions, Jamie has continued to suffer with stiffness and extensive scarring to his hand. The problems meant he had to change job, as he was unable to use heavy tools and equipment.

The Trust admitted it “failed to recognise the severity” of Jamie’s injury when he attended hospital on December 11.

It acknowledged the washing out and partial closure of the wound should not have been performed. Instead Jamie should have been admitted as an inpatient and received intravenous antibiotics and had any affected tissue removed.

His injury should have been escalated for senior review, the Trust also said.

Jamie has been forced to retrain as an electrical engineer due to his loss of hand function. He has recently bought his first house and is looking forward to moving on and trying to put what happened behind him now the case has concluded.

He said: “My hand was in a mess so I was extremely 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.

“The hardest thing to try and 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 that I can continue with my recovery. It means that I can try and look to the future rather than dwell on the past. It means that Christmas will be a lot better this year.

“However, by speaking out I just hope others don’t have to go through what I have.”

A spokesman for University Hospitals Birmingham said the Trust was "sorry for not recognising the severity of Mr Keefe’s injury" and added: “We hope this settlement will support further treatment and rehabilitation for Mr Keefe’s improved hand function.”