Million pound settlement for failure to perform laser eye surgery

 

Our client, a 51 year old man from near Maidstone, Kent, had already lost the sight in his right eye some years earlier when he began experiencing a reduction in vision in his left eye in June 2011.

He went to the ophthalmic department of the Maidstone General Hospital, and on assessment his visual acuity was 6/9 (i.e. slightly reduced from normal, but still good / functional vision). He was told he needed urgent Pan Retinal Photocoagulation (PRP).

Our client then attended on numerous occasions for follow up and treatment, but he did not receive the PRP.

In March 2012, our client developed a further deterioration in his vision and he again went to the Maidstone General Hospital, where he was again told he needed urgent PRP.

Our client did in fact then receive PRP just 3 days later. A further 4 surgeries were performed to his left eye in the months following the initial PRP treatment, but the damage had been done by the 8 month delay in PRP being undertaken, and our client was left with very poor vision in his left eye.

Our client’s vision also continued to deteriorate over time. He was registered as severely sight impaired in June 2014, at which point his visual acuity had reduced to 2/60 (i.e. extremely poor vision). By the point of settlement his visual acuity was only ‘count fingers’ (i.e. he could distinguish shapes against a contrasting background), and the prognosis is for his vision to deteriorate further such that he is likely to be completely blind by Spring 2020.

He has had a guide dog since October 2015 to assist him when out of the house, but he now struggles with all manner of everyday tasks. He has managed to retain his employment for the time being, although he has moved to a restricted role and has taken a substantial reduction in his salary.

Having obtained supportive evidence from an ophthalmic expert, a Letter of Claim was submitted and resulted in a full admission from the Defendant.

We then obtained a range of expert evidence to allow us to assess the value of the claim, before entering into settlement negotiations. The Defendant’s initial offer was £735,000; our counter offer was £1,610,000.

No further progress could be made within negotiations by correspondence, so a joint settlement meeting was organised. At that meeting the Defendant initially increased their offer to £885,000, and then finally to £1,085,000. Such offer was acceptable to our client and the claim concluded on that basis.

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of this case, said “my client has had a devastating outcome as a result of a basic error in failing to implement recommended treatment. That the Defendant admitted liability straight away, and apologised for their error, is of little comfort to my client and only serves to highlight just how fundamental a failing there was in the care provided. There must be better awareness from doctors as to the life changing impact that their actions can have upon individual patients, and also a willingness to learn from these errors and to improve the service they offer. Sadly, I see little evidence of that.”

Our client commented “I knew the hospital had failed me but didn’t know what to do about it.  Fairweathers were suggested to me and I’m so pleased I went with them and specifically Alex Tengroth who from initial consultation has advised and guided me through the legal process over several years.  This included identifying and investigating future aspects of my life I hadn’t even considered ensuring a fair final result.