Failure To Diagnose Aneurysm Leads To Permanent Eyesight Damage

Failure To Diagnose Aneurysm Leads To Permanent Eyesight Damage

Medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell have secured a settlement of £65,000 for a woman after a neurologist failed to diagnose her aneurysms. She was left with severe double vision and forced to give up work.

Our client, Mrs S, had had a history of migraines ever since she was a child and experienced eye pain during these migraines. 

In 2002 she started to experience intermittent double vision and so was referred by her GP to an ophthalmologist who unfortunately couldn’t find the cause of the problem. 

In around October 2004 she began to feel constant pain in her right eye along with the recurrent double vision. Her GP prescribed Amitriptyline for the pain and referred her to the ENT department. They carried out a CT scan on her sinuses in order to investigate the cause of the pain but the scan came back normal.

The pain got worse, becoming constant and unbearable. It affected her sleep and the double vision continued.

A family history of aneurysms

Mrs S was concerned that the cause of her symptoms might be aneurysms, as she had a family history of this condition. 

In May 2006 she attended the A&E department at her local hospital due to the pain and also because her right eye had started to bulge. The hospital recommended that her GP should refer her for a neurological assessment and CT scan.

In June 2006 her GP referred her to Mark Busby, a neurologist at the Yorkshire Clinic who saw her on 6 July 2006. She explained to him how she had developed intermittent double vision, extreme right sided face pain and a drooping/bulging right eye. She also told him about the family history of aneurysms. Mr Busby didn’t refer her for a CT scan or MRI scan and simply diagnosed her as suffering from chronic trigeminal autonomic cephalgia, a category of headache which involves the trigeminal facial nerve. He advised her to stop taking the Amitriptyline and that he would start her on another course of medication. 

Upon stopping taking the Amitriptyline the right-sided face pain became unbearable. She was bedridden and couldn’t stand to look at light and therefore her GP put her back on Amitriptyline. But the new medication that Mr Busby had prescribed did nothing to relieve her symptoms. 

Forced to stop work

As there was no improvement in her symptoms by November 2006 she had to stop work because of the severe head and face pain, and the fact that her double vision had become more frequent. Her eye was also bulging noticeably. The only way she could cope was to hold her head in her hands.

In November 2006 her GP referred her for a MRI scan. The MRI scan was carried out on 28 November 2006 and her GP informed her in December 2006 that the scan had identified that she was suffering from aneurysms and it was these that were the cause of her double vision, bulging right eye and right sided face pain. He advised that she would need to be referred to hospital for treatment of the aneurysms. 

On 2 February 2007 she underwent surgery at Leeds General Infirmary to coil the largest of the aneurysms that was behind her right eye. Following this she was no longer suffering with right sided face pain or a bulging/drooping right eye but she was left with permanent double vision and sensitivity to light..

As a result of the permanent double vision she had to give up her job with a bank as this involved her using a computer which she found extremely difficult to look at. In June 2009 she was provided with prismatic glasses. Despite these lenses helping with the double vision it persisted when looking in certain directions and she couldn’t return to her previous job in the bank.

Irwin Mitchell contacted

Mrs S contacted associate solicitor Margaret Ryan, who pursued a clinical negligence claim against Mr Busby. Margaret argued that he failed to appreciate that the potential cause of her double vision, right sided face pain and bulging/drooping right eye could be due to aneurysms and therefore neglected to refer her for a MRI scan for further investigations. 

We obtained independent expert evidence which supported the allegation that Mr Busby had provided substandard care in July 2006 and that he failed to refer her for an MRI scan to investigate her symptoms further. The expert evidence further confirmed that had she been referred for an MRI scan in July 2006 it would have diagnosed her aneurysms at that time. As a result, she would have undergone treatment of her aneurysms approximately four months earlier than she actually did.

The delay in diagnosis and treatment of her aneurysms caused by Mr Busby’s substandard care resulted in Mrs S being left with permanent double vision which would have been avoided had surgery been performed approximately four months earlier.

No admissions of negligence were made by Mr Busby although his own independent expert evidence confirmed that it was substandard care for him to fail to refer Mrs S for an MRI scan in July 2006 and that had this been done she would have undergone earlier treatment for her condition.

Settlement secured 

Following settlement negotiations with Mr Busby’s solicitor, Irwin Mitchell negotiated an award of £65,000 to compensate Mrs S for the injuries she suffered as a result of the delay in diagnosis and treatment caused by Mr Busby’s negligent care. 

Mrs S said: “I always knew my face pain and double vision was due to aneurysms as my father and sister had suffered with them. But when I told Mr Busby about my concerns he just dismissed them and incorrectly diagnosed me without even investigating my concerns and symptoms further.

“I am glad that the medical experts in the case supported my belief that Mr Busby should have diagnosed my aneurysms and the award of compensation will go some way to help alleviate my financial worries caused by me having to give up my job in the bank.”

Medical negligence expert Margaret Ryan said: “I am pleased that we have been able to obtain an award of compensation for Mrs S. This has been an extremely long, drawn out process for her because the Mr Busby refused to make any admissions despite his own independent expert confirming that the care that he provided in July 2006 was substandard.

“With this award of compensation Mrs S can now get on with her life and obtain the best prismatic lenses to help correct her double vision as well as compensating her for everything that she has had to go through.”

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical misdiagnosis, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.

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