A 62-year-old former carer suffered a worsening of his loss of vision, after an NHS Trust failed to refer him for urgent eye surgery.
In September 2019, the customer noticed that the vision in his left eye was foggy. After seeking advice from a pharmacy, the pharmacist urged him to speak to his GP urgently, which he did. He was advised to go to Accident & Emergency the same day.
Upon arrival at A&E, the man was triaged and advised that he had suffered a haemorrhage in his eye and that he should have a follow-up appointment in four weeks’ time. He was advised to avoid strenuous exercise in the meantime.
When the customer returned for his follow-up appointment, he was advised that he had actually suffered a left vitreous haemorrhage and retinal detachment with macula-off, and the retina had folded on itself, requiring urgent surgery. The customer cancelled his holiday so that he could undergo this urgent procedure.
Shortly afterwards, it was noted that the patient’s visual acuity was hand motion only. Visual acuity (VA) is a measure of the ability of the eye to distinguish shapes and the details of objects at a given distance – this means that the patient could only see hand movements when his VA was tested.
He was discharged from the hospital care in December 2020 as there was nothing further that could be done for his left eye. Our customer now only has approximately 5% vision in his left eye and has suffered with low mood.
Patient Claim Line were approached by our customer, with Medical Negligence Solicitor, Jennifer Argent taking on the case.
A Letter of Claim was sent to the Trust, alleging that they failed to visualise the retina when the customer first attended and failed to refer him for specialist evaluation. As a result, there was a delay in our customer being adequately assessed. Had our customer been assessed on his first attendance he would have been diagnosed with a retinal tear and undergone urgent surgery, which would have resulted in significantly better visual acuity.
After the incident, the customer moved to a new house to be close to family as his wife did not drive. He gave up his employment as a carer as he struggled to complete everyday tasks for himself. He also significantly reduced his eBay business repairing radios, as he struggled to see his work and feared causing an electrical fire for his customers.
The case outcome
The solicitor for the Defendant admitted that it was a breach of duty not to refer our customer to a vitro-retinal surgeon within a week of his attendance but alleged that during this time his retinal detachment would have developed to a macula-off detachment in any event, and therefore he would have suffered from compromised vision anyway – although they did agree that it would not have been limited to light perception only.
In conclusion to the case, our customer was awarded a settlement of £300,000. Reflecting on the process, our customer commented:
“Excellent service, feedback and advice throughout. And an excellent outcome, well done to the whole team!”
“The customer did all he could to act upon his eye symptoms and unfortunately the same cannot be said for the defendant, which has led to catastrophic results. He has had to give up both his job and his hobby due to the injuries he sustained and as a result, his retirement will now be very different to how he envisaged. Hopefully the successful settlement of his claim will go some way towards rebuilding his future.”
Jennifer Argent is a Solicitor within Patient Claim Line’s Medical Negligence department.