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Typical mistakes that could give rise to a claim include a failure to recognise or an avoidable delay in treating eye infections, glaucoma or a detached retina. Negligently performed cataract surgery might also be a basis for making an eye related ophthalmic compensation claim.
Eye related claims can stem from problems arising from laser eye surgery to correct refractive errors (LASIK and LASEK surgery). This is not available on the NHS (unless there is a risk of loss of vision) and so is provided by private clinics and commercial companies.
Whatever the cause of damage to your eyes, we would use expert evidence about the nature and extent of your injuries to assess whether a claim would be successful and accurately value any compensation you may be entitled to.
Shoosmiths recently concluded a claim for damages against Midlands consultant eye surgeon Mr Tristan Reuser at Midland Eye. The case concerned treatment of glaucoma by an ophthalmologist whose clinical interests do not include glaucoma.
According to Amy Greaves, a solicitor in the firm’s medical negligence team, the treatment of such conditions should be undertaken by a specialist ophthalmologist. If a patient sees a doctor privately and they do not have the relevant expertise, an appropriate referral should be made as would happen in the NHS.
Amy handled the successful compensation claim on behalf of Mrs G F, a 69 year-old lady who was treated by Mr Reuser for acute angle closure glaucoma. According to his online profile Mr Reuser specialises in eye plastic surgery, lacrimal, orbital, eyelid tumour and cataract services. Mrs G F who instructed Shoosmiths paid privately for treatment from Mr Reuser to treat her glaucoma conditions.
Mrs G F attended Midland Eye when she suffered an acute loss of vision in her left eye. She was advised to undergo insertion of a multi focal lens. She instead should have been treated with laser iridotomy and a mono focal lens.
Unfortunately, Mrs GF suffered complications which required her to undergo surgery to remove the multi focal lens and undergo insertion of a mono focal lens. Despite this she continued to suffer from difficulties and ultimately required a corneal transplant. She still suffers from distorted vision which continues to impact on her day to day life.
Mrs G F said:
‘My whole life has been affected by the negligent treatment I received. I should be enjoying my retirement with my husband but my much impaired eyesight affects almost everything on a daily basis. I’ve had to attend numerous medical appointments and my independence has been greatly affected.’
Amy Greaves said:
‘It is of course important that any eye condition is swiftly and correctly identified. Any delay in treatment can have devastating consequences and that was the motivation for our client electing to go private. The successful civil claim for Mrs G F was based on the fact that Mr Reuser appears not to be a glaucoma specialist and carried out the wrong procedure.’
During the course of the claim, Mr Reuser admitted that his decision to insert a multi focal lens was negligent. Had Mrs G F undergone laser treatment, or had a mono focal lens been used, on the balance of probabilities, all of her ongoing difficulties would have been avoided.
She was told that the ’straightforward’ procedure would reduce her dependence on glasses and cost around £3,000. She had suffered with a number of eye conditions since childhood, including retinitis pigmentosa (an inherited condition affecting the retina at the back of the eye) but was advised by the clinic that her conditions did not prevent her from undergoing the surgery.
After the surgery she suffered painful symptoms during her recovery. Her vision ultimately deteriorated rendering her far more dependent on glasses than she had been before the operation. She also suffered with symptoms of dry eyes, a common side-effect of laser eye surgery which is permanent.
Unhappy with the outcome and what she suspected might be sub-standard treatment, she instructed Richard Bannister, a lawyer specialising in medical negligence cases at Shoosmiths, to explore the possibility of making a claim.
Investigations carried out by Richard, a solicitor in the firm’s Birmingham medical negligence team, revealed that the advice to undergo laser eye surgery was inappropriate and that our client was not warned of the risks specific to her.
Her pre-existing eye condition meant that she was likely to develop cataracts at an earlier age. In view of this, it would have been better for her vision to be corrected by way of lens implant when she required surgery for cataracts some time in the future.
In fact she was never advised about this alternative form of treatment. Since March 2015, doctors, surgeons and any other professional offering clinical services must demonstrate that they have obtained a patient’s ‘informed consent’ to a proposed treatment or surgery. Failure to do so constitutes negligence and is a basis for making a claim should the patient suffer any harm. Information about the risks and alternatives should be explained in non-technical language. Reciting a jargon-laden list of medical terms is not enough to demonstrate ‘informed consent’.
There was clearly a failure to obtain that ’informed consent’ in this case, however, in addition Shoosmiths investigations and evidence from experts showed that the laser had been incorrectly programmed to take account of the curvature of the eye and this also contributed to the poor outcome.
The claim against the surgeon and the clinic became more complex and difficult than is usual in these cases since it became apparent that the surgeon had been performing procedures without professional indemnity insurance and the clinic had also been placed into administration, but was continuing to trade. Despite these difficulties Shoosmiths continued to fight the legal case resulting in a settlement for a five-figure sum.
'Shoosmiths got me the rehab I needed and really helped with my family. They were fantastic throughout.'
Our experienced ophthalmic negligence solicitors fight to make sure we achieve the best possible outcome and get a settlement which enables you to have the care and support you need for the future.Why Shoosmiths