Jan 22 2009 By Tim Edwards
Harrow Borough midfielder Jamie Lawrence could have lost his right leg after contracting the MRSA superbug.
The 38-year-old underwent surgery on a deep cut to his right knee sustained during a match last month.
He says he developed MRSA after surgeons left two stitches in his knee.
Mr Lawrence, who played for Bradford City in the Premiership, is now planning legal action against Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust and his local doctor's surgery, Nork Clinic, in Banstead, Surrey, where he alleges negligence in earlier treatments of the injury.
He is furious two stitches of the six inserted into the cut were left in the wound and not discovered until his first operation, while he feels the level of care he received on several occasions was inadequate.
The former Jamaica international said: "I'm very angry that this has happened. I've broken my leg, cheekbone and arm in my career, but this was the lowest of the low. You should not be able to go wrong with stitches.
"If I wasn't so persistent in what I was doing I could have lost my leg. If it was someone else they probably would have died over this."
Mr Lawrence was rushed to Northwick Park Hospital last month after suffering the gash below his knee in Harrow's Middlesex Senior Cup Second Round home clash with Enfield Town. He received the stitches and was told to get them removed after 10 days. He did so at the Nork Clinic, where his first concerns arose.
He said: "The nurse told me she could only find four of the six stitches and the other two must have fallen out. Surely you have to check if they are not in there, but she never did."
Still feeling discomfort, he sought the advice of the club physiotherapist, who ordered him to return to hospital.
He received treatment at Epsom Hospital on Christmas Eve and was back there for more two days later.
He said: "They recreated the cut and stitched it back up, but 10 days later it was smelling and there was pus coming out of the wound."
It was only when he went under the knife at St Helier Hospital that surgeons discovered the two other stitches and MRSA.
He said: "I was really worried when they told me I had MRSA. I don't know where I could have got it from."
A second operation revealed medication was working and he was discharged.
Mr Lawrence, who heads his own football academy and is due to meet with his lawyer for talks today said: "I want to go all the way with this and sue them for negligence, especially after all the emotional pain it has caused me."
Shelley Eugene, who oversees health services, including Nork Clinic, for Surrey PCT said: "We are always very concerned to hear when people are not satisfied with the care they have received.
"We have contacted Nork Clinic and they have made it clear they would like to further understand Mr Lawrence's concerns, and would encourage him to get in touch with them directly. Alternatively, if Mr Lawrence wishes to contact Surrey PCT we will of course fully investigate any concerns on his behalf."
A spokesman for Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We are sorry to hear Mr Lawrence is unhappy with the care he received. We would encourage him to contact us directly so we can investigate his complaint."
Mr Lawrence is not expected to take action against North West London Hospital Trust, which runs Northwick Park, but a statement from the body said: "The trust can confirm that Mr Lawrence attended the A&E department at Northwick Park Hospital on December 9. According to our records he was assessed by a doctor and then treated and discharged within three-and-a-half hours.
"Our records also show that the nurse who stitched his knee followed the correct aseptic techniques to avoid infection. It is very difficult for us to comment on the source of his infection given that this is something he could have picked up before coming to hospital or even after he was discharged."
For more on this story see this week's Harrow Observer, out now.