Success for woman whose eyesight was damaged by late diagnosis

An eye test taking place
2 minute read

An eye test taking place

Dan Isaac was instructed by Caroline (not her real name) to bring a medical negligence claim. Caroline aged 83, led an active life after retiring from her job. Among her many activities were voluntary work with a charity, church, grandparenting and being a neighbourhood watch coordinator, as well as regularly learning through the Open University.

As a result of medical negligence, Caroline has suffered severely impaired vision, and now relies on daily care and transport from friends, family and professional carers. Understandably she gets depressed as a result of coping with such a life-changing injury and the isolation that comes with loss of independence.

In 2012, Caroline started experiencing tiredness, shortness of breath and weight loss. She was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She started complaining of blurred vision and was told that there was no thyroid eye disease at that stage.

Caroline was eventually referred for a hospital eye appointment, but no treatment was given. Later that month she collapsed at home with weakness, confusion, swelling to the face, headache and swollen & bloodshot eyes. She was seen by paramedics and remained at home.

Soon after she was admitted by ambulance to hospital and diagnosed with acute thyroid eye disease.

Caroline was seen a total of 37 times between her first consultation in March 2013 and April 2014.

Despite continued treatment from the hospital, Caroline’s eyesight continued to deteriorate.

On her friend’s recommendation, she sought care at a private hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe compressive optic neuropathy in both eyes. This resulted in surgery, however her eyesight was not restored.

Caroline instructed us to bring a claim against the hospital.

To bring a successful clinical negligence claim, Caroline had to show that the medical staff who treated her failed in their duty of care to her and that this failure caused her avoidable injury or loss. To evidence this, an independent Ophthalmologist (Eye doctor) was instructed who provided supportive expert evidence. The Ophthalmologist identified that there was an eleven-month delay in diagnosing the orbital compression of both Caroline’s eyes. This meant that but for the delay, Caroline would only have had moderate visual impairment, and would have retained her independence.

Given the impact the reduced vision had on Caroline’s ability to perform some day to day tasks, expert evidence was also obtained from a Care & Occupational Therapist, who recommended private care provision and certain aids and equipment to assist Caroline.

The Defendant made partial admissions in their Defence, and made offers in August 2019 and April 2020. However, it was felt that these offers did not adequately reflect the injury Caroline had suffered or her ongoing care needs. With just under six weeks before trial, and after a period of intense discussions with the defendant, Dan was able to negotiate improved terms of settlement and the claim settled just shy of £300,000.

As with all cases of clinical negligence, no amount of money can compensate what Caroline has lost, but it does go towards acknowledging her suffering and will provide her with financial security to fund her ongoing care and the support that she now needs.

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