Two women scheduled for apparently simple elective joint replacements have had legs amputated because of infections after going to hospitals run by the Little Company of Mary.
Elma McDonald, 82, now spends her days in a wheelchair because she had her leg amputated above the knee after admitting herself to hospital for a knee replacement.
She alleges medical negligence, but has dropped her legal action because of the cost.
Documents show her tibia was cracked during a knee replacement at Calvary Private Hospital in 2010 and that a fortnight later she was admitted for another surgery to re-do the knee replacement.
After the second operation she says her knee split open and an amputation was needed to get rid of a staphylococcus infection.
It is believed Mrs McDonald's case has been mentioned to the ACT Medical Board, although it is not known what position the board took regarding her treatment.
"This is the latest in knee replacements - it's absolutely disgusting,'' she said.
"The strain that I have to put on my good leg every time I do anything, such as getting in the car, is so traumatic. Before this I was fairly active. I had a life.
"When I had my other knee replaced, I was in hospital for 10 days.
"This time I was rehabilitating in hospital for eight months."
Mrs McDonald, a non-smoker and teetotaller, had a knee replacement on her other leg in 2003 and said she had spent less than three weeks in hospital.
Calvary Private Hospital did not comment when contacted.
Sara Bianchini, 65, of Ngunnawal, said her knee replacement began a six-year ordeal with Calvary Public Hospital that ended with an above-the-knee amputation.
The grandmother was discharged from the hospital on the sixth day after the 2006 knee replacement, at a time when she says her knee was "oozing'' and painful.
She was re-admitted to hospital after two days at home.
"After the bandages came off, the knee split open,'' she said.
"There was blood and pus. It was awful."
Infections in her knee ensured she spent almost six months in hospital and required antibiotics during this long period.
Documents show her leg had nowhere near its normal function afterwards. She was plagued by painful infections for years until it was cut off.
Mrs Bianchini said her prosthetic knee was removed and in its place a rod - which ran from hip to toes - was placed in her leg.
Three different rods were put in at various times.
"The leg was blue and black and it got shorter each time a new rod was put in," she said.
"There was five months where I went in to have my knee washed out every two to three days. Now that's going into theatre. That's not a game."
In 2011 the leg was amputated.
"It has been a nightmare," she said.
"How do you go to hospital to have your knee replaced and six years later lose the leg?
"Since my leg has been taken off I sometimes feel I have lost my confidence and I suffer a lot of phantom pain.
"I miss not being able to go out into the garden and not doing what I used to be able to do."
The Canberra Times has already reported the case of a 69-year-old woman, Gloria Monfries, who went to Calvary Private Hospital in early 2011 for an elective hip replacement, but soon had to have her leg amputated above the knee.
The case was extensively investigated by the ACT Medical Board and believed to be non-infection related.
Again the board's findings in this case were not made public.
Have you, or someone you know, had a similar experience? Email Phillip Thomson with your story.