A Hospital Trust has agreed a £30,000 damages settlement with an elderly patient after independent medical experts said it was likely he’d been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for eight years before it was finally diagnosed.
The patient was reviewed 15 times by his consultant over an eight year period, who rigidly stuck to his original diagnosis of a ‘benign tremor’ despite the man’s worsening condition and two severe hip fractures caused by falls.
It was only after the second hip fracture that a neurologist who saw the patient on his emergency admission to hospital diagnosed him with ‘obvious Parkinson’s’ and immediately started him on the correct medication.
Within days the patient was walking with a stick, having previously been forced to use a wheelchair, and his quality of life was described as going from ‘zero’ to ‘good’.
As part of a legal case led by Hudgell Solicitors on behalf of the patient, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust offered the £30,000 damages settlement, despite denying delayed diagnosis.
Patient first referred to consultant for possible Parkinson’s in 2005
The patient, who is now 88, first saw his GP in June 2005 with tremors in his hand and a ‘mask-like’ facial expression, which led to his GP referring him to a Consultant Geriatrician at Hull Royal Infirmary, querying possible Parkinson’s disease.
His first appointment with the consultant, Dr M Riaz Mansoor, took place in August 2005, when the diagnosis was made of a ‘benign tremor’ and he was put on medication.
Between August 2005 and October 2013 he was reviewed by Dr Mansoor 15 times, and each time the consultant stuck to his original diagnosis, despite the patient’s worsening condition and questions from his relatives about whether he was suffering from Parkinson’s.
In July 2012 he fell and broke his left hip, and in December 2012 he was admitted with a broken right hip.
His medical notes referred to him having “no quality of life” during this period, and having to endure long separations from his wife due to his hospital admissions.
In April 2013 Dr Mansoor started him on a different medication, Tetrabenazine, for his tremor, a drug which actively worsens the effects of Parkinson’s and that the Trust admitted as part of the legal case had accelerated the disease by 12 months.
It was not until November 2013 – eight years after his first GP visit – that a neurologist at Hull Royal Infirmary, who saw the patient after yet another fall, diagnosed him correctly, and put him on a drug used for Parkinson’s sufferers.
A formal complaint was made, but still Dr Mansoor did not agree with the neurologist that the patient was suffering with Parkinson’s.
A consultant neurologist who was called on to give his expert opinion in the legal case said: “It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Dr Mansoor was unable to detect clear signs of Parkinsonism over quite a long period of time, even at a stage when Parkinsonism was obvious to other doctors who saw the patient at roughly the same time.
“It is very likely, on the balance of probabilities, that his illness was Parkinson’s disease from the outset in 2005.
“Failure to diagnose and treat his Parkinson’s disease led to mobility problems, falls, and fractures. Obviously, this involved considerable pain, suffering, and loss of function, on top of the disability caused.”
Solicitor – ‘Expert opinion was that Parkinson’s had been misdiagnosed for eight years’
Helena Wood, a medical negligence specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “Although the Trust has denied the long delay in diagnosis, this was completely disputed by independent medical professionals we consulted as part of the case, who were of the opinion it was highly likely this was Parkinson’s from day one.
“Within days of being prescribed the correct medication, the patient began to feel significantly better.
“He began sleeping properly and he didn’t have any more falls, he was also able to walk with a stick, whereas before he required a walking frame or a wheelchair. He no longer suffers with facial rigidity or drooping, and his tremors have significantly reduced. He now feels that he has a good quality of life, whereas prior to the diagnosis, he felt that he had no quality of life.
“This patient and his family have been through a very difficult number of years. He has suffered several painful falls, sleepless nights and enforced separations from his wife, who he was a carer for.
“It has had an enormous impact on the whole family, and the fact that it went on for as long as it did, with clear signs that he was getting worse, is quite unbelievable.”