020 7650 1200

Medical drip with patient in the hospital blurred background

Medical negligence case settled for woman left blind after pituitary tumour was missed

Find out how a medical negligence case was settled for a woman left blind after a pituitary tumour was missed.

Posted on 08 January 2015

A woman who has been left blind and suffering from hypopituitarism, a chronic condition where the pituitary gland is unable to produce hormones, has received compensation after a delay in diagnosing and treating her pituitary tumour.

The woman, known only as Miss S, was represented by medical negligence lawyer Sally-Jean Nicholes.

In 2008 Miss S noticed that her vision had become impaired to the extent that she couldn’t see full lines of text when she was reading.  She was examined by ophthalmologists and was told that nothing was wrong. The problems she was experiencing with her vision continued off and on and she was examined again in 2008 and 2009 and told that nothing was wrong.

A year later Miss S experienced sudden, very severe head pain which was at first thought to be tension headache but after a few days she was taken to hospital where she was diagnosed as suffering from a pituitary tumour. Further investigation showed that the growth had probably been present for up to five years and it explained the symptoms she had experienced for the past two years.

Normally when a pituitary tumour is diagnosed it can be remove in a relatively simple and minimally invasive operation, and a patient would be expected to make a full recovery.  A patient would also have the have the hormone function of the pituitary gland checked once the tumour had been removed.

Because of the delay in diagnosing Miss S’s pituitary tumour it had become so large and apoplectic – causing the sudden onset of headaches and visual symptoms – that its removal required a craniotomy and was complicated.

One of the complications of late stage pituitary tumour surgery is an increased risk damage to the optic nerve.

Following surgery to remove Miss S’s tumour she was left completely and irreversibly blind.

Because of the delay in diagnosis Miss S has an underactive pituitary gland and suffers from hypopituitarism which has led to her developing other chronic conditions including type II diabetes.  She has had to give up her profession as a teacher on medical grounds. She has suffered with depression. 

The Defendant Trust admitted liability in 2013 and the case was settled in December 2014 for a six-figure sum and periodic payments which will continue for the rest of Miss S’s life.

Sally-Jean Nicholes, a medical negligence lawyer at Leigh Day, said:

“If my client's pituitary tumour had been diagnosed and treated as it should have been when she first had symptoms she could have had straightforward treatment and been back at work eight weeks later. Instead she is blind, has diabetes and has lost a large measure of independence, all of which could have been avoided. The financial award will help her to achieve greater independence and improve her quality of life.  

“My client is a wife, mother and a grandmother. Before the events in 2010 she had enjoyed a very active and outdoor life, she was a keen sportswoman, she loved the dramatic arts, she loved her work with young people as a sport, dance and drama teacher. She has worked very hard to try to adjust to the difficulties caused by her disability and medical condition but her life has changed beyond recognition because of the Defendant’s negligence. As she said to me “I miss my old life so much. I would give anything to have it back”