Medical Negligence: Case Settled

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The Medical Negligence Team at Healy O’Connor recently acted on behalf of an individual in a High Court Medical Negligence claim, where the eyesight in one of our client’s eyes was lost completely. The case was a very complicated Medical Negligence action and after five years of litigation the matter settled in its entirety a number of weeks before the trial of the case. A very substantial six figure sum was achieved by the firm on behalf of the Plaintiff Client.

The client’s claim, was that as a consequence of an Irish Hospital’s negligence, the hospital did not treat a condition called Temporal Arteritis from which she was suffering when she was admitted to hospital on a date approximately five years ago. Furthermore the hospital did not diagnose that the client was suffering from the condition of Temporal Arthritis and did not treat that condition in a timely manner.   As a consequence of the negligence the client suffered loss of vision in one of her eyes.

Temporal Arteritis is inflammation and damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the head. If the inflammation affects the arteries in an individual’s neck, upper body and arms, it is called Giant Cell Arteritis. Temporal, Giant Cell and Cranial Arteritis occur when one or more arteries become inflamed, swollen and tender. Temporal Arteritis commonly occurs around the temples. The cause of the condition is unknown but it is believed in part to be due to faulty immune response. The order has been linked to severe infections and the use of high dosages of antibiotics.

There are known symptoms of Temporal Arteritis which are thought to medical students in medical school and these include: throbbing headaches on one side of the head or the back of the head, tenderness when touching the scalp and jaw pain. If Temporal Arteritis is diagnosed or considered by a doctor blood tests must be carried out which tests include sedimentation rate and C reactive protein tests. Receiving treatment immediately is key to preventing severe problems such as blindness or stroke. The most immediate and effective treatment is high doses of corticosteroids. Most people begin to feel better within a few days of starting treatment.

If Temporal Arteritis is not treated rapidly and appropriately it can lead to Anteritic Ischaemic Optic Neuropathy which is loss of vision. The reason for this is that the Temporal Arteritis is an inflammatory disease which damages the blood vessel supply in the optic nerves leading to insufficient blood supply to the nerves and subsequent optic nerve fibre death. Most cases result in near complete vision loss, first in one eye and if the Temporal Arteritis is left untreated the fellow eye will likely suffer vision loss as well within one to two weeks. Prompt diagnosis is critical in treatment with a long course of corticosteroids.

In respect of our client’s Medical Negligence case, two individual medical experts from the UK were retained on behalf of our client and after reviewing all of the medical records were of the opinion that our client was suffering from obvious signs of Temporal Arteritis.  They also stated  that this diagnosis was missed by the doctors and other medical practitioners who were assessing and treating our client and that she should have been immediately commenced on high doses of corticosteroids and arrangements should have been made for an urgent Temporal Artery Biopsy. Alternatively if the doctors were not sure about the diagnosis they should have asked for an urgent Rheumatological opinion from the day of admission.

In addition, there were other opportunities to treat our client with high doses of corticosteroids which would have either prevented her blindness or led to a better outcome prior to when the treatment was eventually commenced.

Unfortunately due to the treatment received, our client lost the eyesight in one eye and the damage done was irreversible.

A Medical Negligence case was initiated by this office on behalf of the defendant and the case was due to be heard in December of 2015.  In advance of the Medical Negligence hearing date a meeting was arranged and the matter was successfully concluded by way of settlement.

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