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Six figure settlement for client whose acute glaucoma was missed

Kelly Lawford has obtained compensation for a client who was left with permanent problems with her sight

Posted on 14 October 2010

Kelly Lawford, specialist clinical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day & Co, has obtained damages of £860,000 for a client who suffered acute glaucoma that went undiagnosed for several days.

C, then aged 41, developed acute angle closure glaucoma on the evening of 14 December 2004. She attended the accident and emergency department of a hospital in Essex on 15 December 2004 but despite symptoms of severe headache with vomiting, blurred vision, reduced visual acuity, sluggish pupil reactions, eye pain and red eyes, C was sent home without a diagnosis and without having been seen by a senior doctor/ eye specialist.

The following day C consulted her GP who examined her at home and diagnosed conjunctivitis. On 17 December 2004, when C was showing no signs of improvement, a further GP visit was requested but was refused.   C therefore continued at home, confined to her bedroom in pain, until 21 December 2004 when she could bear the pain no longer and a further GP appointment was requested.  An urgent appointment was made for C with another GP at the surgery who referred her directly to hospital. She was seen by the ophthalmology team and acute angle closure glaucoma was diagnosed.

Over the following days and months, C underwent several surgical procedures but because of the negligent delay in diagnosing and treating her acute angle closure glaucoma, she was left with a permanent and severe injury to her vision.  She could no longer continue to work as a secretary as she had before her injury and she had to rely on others for assistance with household tasks and other aspects of her daily life. She was unable to travel to unfamiliar places and was no longer able to do many of the things she had previously enjoyed. 

We investigated the claim on C’s behalf.  After obtaining expert advice we asked the NHS Trust responsible for the hospital, the GP who saw her on 16 December 2004 and the practice nurse who was contacted on 17 December 2004 to agree they were liable for her injuries. After several months, the NHS Trust responded to deny responsibility. Representatives for the GP and practice nurse eventually made an admission of liability. After proceedings were issued and C’s claim was put to the defendants again, the NHS Trust also made an admission of liability and judgment was then entered in respect of all three defendants in C’s favour. A trial to consider the amount of compensation to which C was entitled was then arranged.

Expert evidence was obtained about the prognosis for C’s sight, her future care, equipment and rehabilitation needs and the impact of her injury on her career. This determined that she was likely to continue to need help with care, would need specialist items of equipment to help her cope with her ongoing problems and was likely to continue to face very substantial difficulties in relation to obtaining employment in the future. 

The defendants made an initial offer to settle the claim while C was still establishing the effects of injury on her but once the future position and financial value of C’s claim was clear, further settlement attempts were made by all parties and the claim settled approximately five months before trial. 

C said of her experience:

"At the beginning of the case I was rather apprehensive, as the whole process was alien to me.  However, Kelly was excellent and she explained the procedure in detail and guided me every step of the way.  Although the case was a rather complex and lengthy one, Kelly kept me fully informed and up to date throughout.  With all the expert help and advice I received, the case was successful and I was quite overwhelmed with the substantial settlement figure, which will make my life much easier in the future.  I would not hesitate to recommend Kelly to anyone who might be considering embarking on a personal injury claim."

For more information please contact Kelly Lawford on 020 7650 1200.

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