Substandard GP Care Results in Severe Vision Loss: Case Study

13 Jul 2021 | Stephanie Prior

Table of Contents

Substandard GP Care Leads to Profound Vision Loss

Stephanie Prior acted on behalf of J in connection with a claim relating to substandard care by her GP.

Initial Incident and Misdiagnosis

The claim arose out of injuries sustained due to the failure of J’s GP to provide J with the appropriate standard of care when J’s daughter telephoned J’s GP to explain that J had woken up with blurred vision in both eyes. J was in her early 80’s.

J was seen by the GP later that morning and was prescribed Chloramphenicol for an eye infection. It would appear that, the GP did not take account J’s change in vision, given that J had previously experienced loss of vision in one eye following a trans ischaemic attack several months earlier.

Ineffective Treatment and Worsening Condition

The Chloramphenicol eye drops did not improve J’s condition and her daughter contacted the GP surgery again two days later to explain that there had been no improvement in J’s vision. The following day J’s daughter telephoned the GP surgery again as J could not open her eyes properly and had very little vision. The GP prescribed Opatamol to be administered twice a day.

The following day J’s daughter found J on the floor outside her bedroom, J said she had no vision in both eyes. J’s daughter contacted the GP surgery again, she informed the GP that J had not been able to see for 4-5 days and the GP said he would prescribe stronger antibiotics and ointment for J to apply to both eyes. The GP surgery also advised later that morning over the telephone that the ART Team (community based team with a doctor) would visit J over the weekend.

Unfortunately, the ointment prescribed was a skin ointment and could not be given to J and replacement medication had to be prescribed by the GP and collected from the pharmacy, by J’s daughter. The ART team did not visit J at all over that weekend.

Critical Diagnosis and Irreversible Damage

The following Monday J’s daughter telephoned the GP surgery and advised that J’s vision had not improved and everything was dark and J was unable to see. The GP said that he would contact the local hospital to organise an appointment for J to be seen by the specialist eye team.

J attended hospital the following afternoon and J was examined. Her intraocular eye pressures were significantly raised at 37/38 and her pupils were fixed and dilated. J was diagnosed with bilateral angle closure glaucoma and thereafter was registered as Severely Sight Impaired.

J had to undergo YAG laser peripheral iridotomy and cataract surgery which did not improve her vision. She had no vision in her right eye and minimal vision in her left eye, which she relied on.

Injuries and losses

The Claimant suffered:

  • Profound loss of vision
  • Loss of confidence and required support and care at all times.
  • Loss of independence and she had to leave her home and move into a care home.

Negotiations lead to a six-figure settlement

A Letter of Claim was served on the GP. A Letter of Response admitted liability for J’s injuries. Proceedings were therefore not issued in Court. Expert evidence was obtained from a GP expert; Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and witness evidence was obtained from J’s adult children; a family friend who provided her with ‘buddy’ services and the manager of the nursing home where J resided.

J sustained a fall in the nursing home and suffered injuries that required surgery. Her condition deteriorated and she died prior to settlement of the claim.

The claim continued and J’s son was the Personal Representative of J’s Estate. New funding arrangements were entered into and a revised Schedule of Loss and Damage was drafted to aid settlement. Negotiations had commenced prior to J’s death. Probate was complex which delayed settlement being reached between the parties.

The case settled for a six-figure sum following negotiations between the parties without proceedings being issued.

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