Page last updated:
1st June 2023

Know what harm looks like

Harm refers to any negative consequence or adverse effect that may result from a medical intervention or treatment or lack of medical intervention or treatment for a leg or foot condition.

Know what leg and foot harm looks like. Illustration of people talking about harm.

What is harm?

Harm can include injury, infection, psychological distress, or any other negative outcome that may result from medical procedures, medications, or other interventions. Harm can also refer to the failure to provide appropriate and timely care of a leg or foot condition.

These failures of care can include:

  • Delayed or inadequate assessment and referrals
  • Absent, delayed, or inaccurate diagnosis
  • Inappropriate dressing management
  • Delays in starting treatment
  • No or weak compression
  • Not being given flexibility or choice about your appointments and treatment

You or someone you care for might be at risk of harm if:

  • Your leg or foot wound is not showing signs of healing after two weeks and you are not referred to a specialist
  • You are not offered compression or the compression you are offered is not strong enough
  • Your compression stockings are causing pain and you are not offered an alternative
  • Your dressings are not being regularly changed – this should happen at least once a week
  • You are waiting for more than six weeks for an ABPI test
  • You are prescribed repeat courses of antibiotics for an infection rather than looking at alternative treatment options (including compression)
  • You are not given flexibility or choice about your appointments and treatment
  • You do not feel like your pain or concerns are being taken seriously by your healthcare practitioner

Concerned about the care that you are receiving or worried that you or someone your care for might be at risk of harm?

  1. Speak to your healthcare provider: If you have concerns about your treatment or care, have an honest conversation and speak to your healthcare provider, or ask to speak to their manager. They may be able to address your concerns or refer you to someone who can help in the first instance.
  2. Contact a patient advocacy group: There are several patient advocacy groups in the UK that can provide advice and support such as the Patients Association. They can also help you navigate the complaints process.
  3. Contact PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) or PASS Scotland (Patient Advice and Support Service Scotland): They offer confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters
  4. Complain to your local MP: MPs can assist their constituents in a variety of ways, from making private enquiries on your behalf, to raising matters publicly in the House of Commons about your care.
  5. Report it as safety issue. You can report patient safety incidents directly on the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS)

You have the right to receive safe and effective care of your leg or foot condition. If you have any concerns about your treatment or care, it is important to speak up.