£50,000 recovered for failure to treat deteriorating vision.

Our client, a 62 year old man at the time, attended at the eye casualty department at the Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup on 28.10.10, was found to be suffering from a painful left eye, which was red and inflamed, with intermittent blurring. It was decided that he should be seen in the ophthalmic clinic within two weeks.

Unfortunately, due to a faulty fax machine in the Ophthalmic Department, the referral was never received and an appointment was not arranged until our client repeatedly chased the hospital.

Having received an ‘urgent’ appointment to be seen at the Queen Mary’s Hospital on 02.05.11, our client was referred by his GP to the Moorfields Eye Hospital and was seen by them on 15.02.11. However, despite appropriate treatment being provided from that point onwards, the damage to the left eye had already been caused by the delay previously experienced.

As a consequence, our client suffered a complete loss of vision in his left eye, coupled with excruciating pain due to high intra-ocular pressure. This resulted in him having to have his left eye removed and replaced with a prosthesis.

As can happen in such circumstances, following the removal of his left eye, the vision in our client’s right eye began to deteriorate. This is known as sympathetic ophthalmia. Thankfully, due to prompt treatment, the condition was dealt with and the vision in his right eye was fully restored.

Our client does remain at a very small long term risk of further episodes of sympathetic ophthalmia, but the strong likelihood is that such episodes would be treated appropriately without long term consequences. As such, our client decided not to settle his claim on a provisional basis.

The Defendant admitted breach of duty causative of the loss of the left eye, and settlement was reached in the sum of £50,000 (also incorporating a small amount for the future risk to the right eye).

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of the claim, commented:

The outcome for my client ought to have been only a slight reduction in the vision in his left eye, and it is worrying to think that something as simple as a faulty fax machine could have had such significant consequences.

An appropriate settlement has, however, been achieved and my client will now be able to move forward with his life which, despite the loss of his left eye, is almost completely unrestricted.