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September 16th 2021

Hospital Negligence

Hospitals agree £950,000 damages for businessman after failures in treatment of tumour caused him to suffer loss of vision

Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

Hospitals agree £950,000 damages for businessman after failures in treatment of tumour caused him to suffer loss of vision

A patient has been awarded £950,000 damages after two hospitals made errors causing delays in the treatment of a tumor on his pituitary gland which caused severe damage to his eyesight and left him unable to drive.

A patient has been awarded £950,000 damages after two hospitals made errors causing delays in the treatment of a tumor on his pituitary gland which caused severe damage to his eyesight and left him unable to drive.

Firstly, specialists at Birch Hill Hospital Eye Clinic in Greater Manchester failed to carry out investigations which would likely have identified the tumour in 2011 after he had been referred by an optician, causing a 12-month delay in diagnosis.

As a result of the delay, the tumour caused compression and damage to his optic nerve.

By the time he underwent surgery it was not possible to remove the tumour entirely, his vision could not be restored and he had to remain under the care of a specialist team at the Royal Preston Hospital for regular reviews

Further errors were then made in his care 21 months later when scans identified an increase in the size of the tumour which was again impacting on his right optic nerve. The scans were not reviewed by the team responsible for the patient’s care and so no action was taken at that time.

This caused a delay of another two years in treatment, with the man again suffering further loss of vision, particularly in his left eye. When the error was picked up, the patient underwent a second operation to remove the tumour and a course of radiotherapy treatment.

The man, who was 40 when he first began experiencing problems with his sight, never regained the vision he lost during the periods of delay in his treatment.

He is now registered as severely sight impaired as he has been left without any peripheral vision, meaning he is only able to see objects directly in his line of sight, and he is unable to judge distance which affects his ability to assess height and depth.

Medical negligence claim highlighted ‘unacceptable errors’ in treatment

Following legal action led by solicitor Laura Larkin, one of the expert medical negligence lawyers at Hudgell Solicitors, a damages settlement of £950,000 was agreed between Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Birch Hill Hospital, and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which operates Royal Preston Hospital.

Ms Larkin said: “The effects of the significant delays in treating this tumour have been catastrophic for our client and his quality of life. It has impacted on his life at home and his ability to run his business.

“As part of the case it was accepted that had the tumour been identified and treated appropriately in and around the time he was first referred to hospital by his optician, he would have suffered minimal loss of vision and would still have been able to drive.

“In fact he was left with a loss of vision which has impacted on the running of his business, and his ability to travel and see clients, whilst also affecting life at home. He now has to take great care when doing any jobs around the house, such as using a sharp knife or the hob, or when using the stairs. He also used to drive his family around and now of course that has all fallen to his wife.

“The frustrating element of this case was the basic level of errors made. Our client was rightly referred to the care of hospital specialists by his optician but firstly Birch Hill Hospital discharged him without any further investigation and then, knowing the severity of our client’s condition, Royal Preston Hospital failed to act upon an MRI scan which clearly showed the tumour had grown again. Both were unacceptable errors.”

Hospital Trusts admitted breach of duty of care

As part of the medical negligence claim, it was alleged that with correct treatment the man would have recovered to have nearly normal vision, would have remained fully independent and able to drive, and continue pursuing his career.

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust admitted breach of duty of care and accepted that but for the negligent delay the man would likely have been able to satisfy the requirements of the DVLA to retain his driving licence.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust accepted they too had  breached their duty of care which resulted in a second delay of around two years in treating the tumour when it recurred.

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