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Written on 27th February 2024 by Sita Soni

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence solicitors have secured an admission of liability (negligence) and an apology for a woman who suffered a loss of vision in one eye as a result of negligent delay in diagnosis of her retinal detachment.

Our client had type 1 diabetes with a past history of optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) and pre-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (a serious condition affecting the retina of the eye). She usually attended the defendant hospital regularly for three to six monthly diabetic screening but the timing of her appointments had been affected by the covid pandemic.

Misinterpreted scan caused delays in diagnosis and treatment of detached retina 

She noticed a deterioration in her vision and attended a review appointment at the hospital. An OCT scan (optimal coherence tomography) was carried out which showed that she had a left tractional retinal detachment, but this was not recognised and a note was made in her records that the scan did not show any signs of macula oedema (swelling of the macula within the eye). Following the scan and a dilated examination it was noted that her diabetic maculopathy was controlled and that she should be reviewed in four months.

Two and a half months later, she experienced ‘a dark curtain’ over the vision in her left eye. This is a common sign of retinal detachment. She contacted her opticians and was advised to attend the hospital’s eye clinic urgently. She attended the hospital on the same day, where she was noted to have blurred vision and flashing. She was referred urgently to a specialist eye hospital for a possible retinal detachment and was seen by their vitreoretinal team three days later. The diagnosis was left macula retinal detachment, as well as right proliferative diabetic retinopathy. She underwent surgery on both eyes ten days later. This included pan retinal photocoagulation laser treatment and Avastin injection in the right eye and a par plana vitrectomy, delamination and endolaser with silicon oil insertion in the left eye.

A month later, she noticed a black area of vision in her left eye. She attended the eye hospital and was told that her retina had detached again, needing further surgery two days later. Since then, she has undergone further surgical procedures  and has lost the vision in her left eye.

Hospital’s own investigation finds signs of retinal detachment were missed

The defendant hospital carried out a serious incident investigation and reported that the OCT scan indicated signs of a retinal detachment in our client’s left eye, which should have led to a diagnosis of retinal detachment. The serious incident report confirmed that the misinterpretation of the scan resulted in a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of the retinal detachment.

Making a medical negligence claim for sight loss after delayed diagnosis of retinal detachment

We helped our client make a claim against the hospital which had failed to diagnose our client’s tractional retinal detachment on the OCT scan and slit lamp examination, on the basis that their failure led to a seven-week delay in the retinal detachment being diagnosed and treated. If the retinal detachment had been identified at the time of the scan, correct treatment would have been to refer her for urgent assessment and laser or vitreoretinal surgical treatment, which would have prevented the loss of vision in her left eye.

NHS Resolution responded to the claim by admitting that the negligent failure to detect the tractional retinal detachment resulted in a seven-week delay in diagnosis and treatment. They accepted that correct action following diagnosis would have been to refer our client for urgent assessment and laser/surgical treatment which would have avoided the loss of visual acuity (ability to see details at a distance) in the left eye, but argued that even with timely treatment our client would have lost some peripheral vision from the detachment and laser treatment. They made a formal apology to our client.

We are now working with our client and our experts to assess and fully understand the impact of our client’s blindness in her left eye, to ensure that her losses arising from her disability and the costs of meeting her additional needs are included in her claim. We will then meet with NHS Resolution to negotiate a compensation settlement.

If you or a family member have suffered severe injury as a result of medical negligence or have been contacted by HSSIB/MNSI or NHS Resolution you can talk to a solicitor, free and confidentially, for advice about how to respond or make a claim by contacting us.