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Wrongful Diagnosis of Corneal Abrasion

MK was working in a bathroom when he was struck in his left eye by a sliver of fibre glass. He went to the Accident & Emergency Department of the Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. There he was examined and told that he had suffered a corneal abrasion, but was reassured that there was no major injury and discharged with simple medication.

Over the course of the next two months his vision did not improve, but in fact, deteriorated further, culminating in an emergency appointment with his general practitioner who, in turn, referred him to Southend General Hospital the same day. He was then immediately referred to the Southend Private Hospital, where an opthalmologist diagnosed a left retinal detachment (macular off). He underwent left vitrectomy, cryopexy and gas tamponade under local aesthetic. Luckily, the retinal detachment surgery was successful but unfortunately he had suffered a reduction in vision in his left eye. This was not considered disabling. 

Independent experts in the fields of ophthalmology and accident and emergency medicine were involved, and it was confirmed that there was a failure by the Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals to undertake a proper, or indeed any, biomicroscopy or fundoscopy and that an inappropriate and unreasonable diagnosis of corneal abrasion was made. It was further argued that had it not been possible for the accident and emergency practitioner to examine the left eye due to a corneal oedema, then the standard practice would have been to invite the claimant back for proper examination the following day.

There was also an alleged failure to consider and identify a retinal break (a known predisposing factor to retinal detachment) and to consider that the risk factors for this were pathological myopia, a family history of retinal detachment, a history of previous retinal detachment or previous intraocular pressure. There was no history of any of these, which should have been indicative as the only other risk factor was ocular trauma. This was therefore argued to be the likely cause of the retinal detachment that occurred after the initial injury.

Neil Heavisides of Longden, Walk & Renney Solicitors Clinical Negligence department represented MK and put forward a claim to the Hospital Trust and negotiated a settlement of just over £28,000 on MK’s behalf. 

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