This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who successfully settled a case involving the loss of a patient's eye securing compensation totalling £136,500.00.
This case involved the accident and emergency department at The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and their failure to identify what are considered to be classic symptoms of retinal tears.
The claimant was complaining of having black floaters in her eyes as well as black lines moving across her vision. The clinician who carried out the ophthalmic examination unfortunately failed to use any eye drops to ensure that he could see properly into the claimant's eye and the claimant was discharged without any follow up arrangements being made. It later transpired that the claimant was also suffering from lattice degeneration (which should have been identified) which is also a sign that retinal detachment may be imminent. The claimant continued to put up with the symptoms for over a week before finally being referred back to the William Harvey Hospital for a second consultation, this time with a different clinician. Unfortunately, by this stage, the claimant's retina had detached with a large U shape retinal tear.
The claimant was sent to Guy's & St Thomas's Hospital in London for urgent surgery. She underwent a vitrectomy (the removal of clear transparent jelly, the vitreous humour, from inside the eye). The surgeon also tried using cryotherapy (use of extreme cold from liquid nitrogen or argon gas to destroy diseased tissue) under a general anaesthetic.
Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and the claimant's eye began to deteriorate. She never regained any sight in the affected eye and it eventually had to be eviscerated (complete removal of the eye ball) and a prosthetic eye ball was inserted in its place.
Unfortunately the claimant had a bad reaction to this prosthesis and suffered from constant uncontrollable weeping from the eye socket which made life even more difficult.
The claimant struggled with various day to day tasks due to the difficulties she encountered judging distances she is slowly learning to adapt as best she can.
Under the current legal system, the monetary awards which are granted for what is termed, pain suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA), are not considered generous and in this case the PSLA element made up around £45,000 of the overall figure of £136,500.00 compensation. Most people would agree that a lump sum of between £35,000 - £45,000 is minimal compensation for the loss of an eye.
While it is clear that monetary compensation cannot give the claimant back her eye, it is hoped that it will be able to help her with day to day tasks which she is currently finding very difficult as she will now be able to employ people to help her with the tasks she can no longer carry out herself.
James Cahan specialises in ophthalmic cases. If you would like to ask James a question about a potential case involving ophthalmology or you have a general query about medical negligence contact James on 01892 701289 in confidence.
We have one of the largest and most experienced specialist medical negligence teams in Southern England including London. Our team of highly experienced lawyers has the depth and range of expertise essential in this sensitive and often complex area of law. Our clinical negligence team is very proud to be ranked Number 1 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners UK.