Oliver Chapman, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) Offices, has secured £9,000 for a claimant who suffered a less favourable outcome as a result of a delay in diagnosing a retinal detachment.
The claimant, who was in his 60s, attended a high street optician in Chatham, Kent, and complained about floaters in his vision. He was told he had suffered a post vitreous detachment (PVD), which was a symptom of age, but warned to look out for the signs of future retinal detachment.
At the end of May the following year he experienced a sudden explosion of floaters in his left eye and his vision became significantly hazy. He noted a vertical veil in his vision and, as advised, returned to the optician on 1 June, fearing he had suffered a retinal detachment. Examination was scant and he was assured there was no problem which required further consideration.
The symptoms deteriorated over the summer and on 10 August he returned to the opticians and requested a referral to a consultant ophthalmologist. Again, examination was brief and he was reassured that there was no problem with his eye. He was warned to look for the signs of retinal detachment, even though he was already experiencing the symptoms he was told to look out for.
He was so distressed that on 13 August he telephoned the optician who was reluctantly persuaded to refer him for expert opinion. However, he was told the referral would have to go via his GP. This caused further delays.
His condition deteriorated and on 22 August he attended Maidstone Hospital where a retinal detachment was diagnosed. He was referred to St Thomas Hospital where, on 26 August, an emergency repair was performed. The procedure was a success and he had a relatively prompt and excellent recovery.
We were instructed pursuant to a conditional fee agreement and obtained a report from an optometrist who confirmed that there were breaches of duty on 1 June, 10 August and 13 August. Instructions were therefore sent to a consultant ophthalmic surgeon to report on the causative impact of those breaches in the claimant’s condition. Causation was difficult but it was ultimately concluded that the delay deprived the claimant of the opportunity to have the initial retinal break repaired with laser surgery. Instead a full retinal detachment operation was required with an increased recovery time.
The matter was complicated as two of the three treating opticians were locums, and thus tracing them was difficult, but shortly after the issue of court proceedings, the claim settled for £9,000 plus costs.
The settlement reflected the excellent recovery the claimant had made given the delay in treatment.
Oliver Chapman specialises in eye related cases. If you would like to speak to Oliver or ask him a question about a potential case, please contact him on 01892 701234 in confidence.