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Compensation Secured For Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander After Unidentified Illness Ruined Career

Irwin Mitchell’s military specialists represented a man after his illness went unidentified for years. The delay in diagnosis changed his life and cost him his successful career.

Lt Cdr ‘X’ had been in the Royal Navy for more than ten years at the time when he was eventually diagnosed. The unfolding reality and the severity of his condition were an unimaginable contrast from the personal and professional success he had enjoyed in his short tenure. His professionalism and pride in his Service was undeniable. He had been identified as one of the top performers at every stage in his varied career, which included work in Fishery Protection Squadrons, Air Squadrons, leading military establishments, time in West Africa and extensive periods on land and at sea in the Middle East. All this work had masked the worsening condition. 

Illnesses throughout service

Lt Cdr ‘X’ first experienced symptoms in November 2002 having been declared ‘fit in all aspects’ on joining the RN some three years earlier. Had the abnormal urine and blood results been repeated or referred to at the time of testing, the renal disorder that later changed his life could have been diagnosed.

Despite the condition steadily worsening, unaware, Lt Cdr ‘X’ diligently dispatched his duties. In 2007 whilst in a physically and mentally demanding appointment, another set of anomalous test results were ignored/missed by medical staff. Again, had the result been repeated and/or referred to at the time, further analysis could have prevented the condition deteriorating for the subsequent three years.

On 29 Mar 2010, Lt Cdr ‘X’ went to the civilian doctor. Feeling very unwell, his blood pressure had reached a staggering 242/160 and he was urgently admitted to hospital that day. He was diagnosed with Mesangio Capillary Glomerular Nephritis, Malignant Hypertension and Micro Angiopathic Haemolytic Anaemia; Lt Cdr ‘X’ had suffered renal failure.

Medical discharge

Lt Cdr ‘X’ spent some four weeks in hospital on the Renal Ward before being discharged home and medically downgraded. He remained on sick leave until March 2011 when he was referred to a Naval Medical Board of Survey (NMBOS). The board recommended that he should be discharged on medical grounds and his last day of service was in September 2011.

Expert help

Lt Cdr ‘X’ came to Irwin Mitchell’s Military Negligence team who managed to secure him a significant six-figure settlement. Prior to Irwin Mitchell presenting evidence, the Ministry of Defence only valued his case at £10,000.

Irwin Mitchell’s experts instructed medical and employment experts to look into his case. Our lawyers found that despite ending up in high-profile, civilian employment, Lt Cdr ‘X’ had suffered significant costs, both physically and psychologically.

Ultimately, the medical staff’s failures to diagnose his renal disorder deprived our client of the chance to keep himself in the best possible health and stopped him making decisions to prevent further renal deterioration.

Unfit treatment

Despite Lt Cdr ‘X’s devoted service, the reasonable expectation that his medical interests would be looked after whilst he was put his life on the line was not fulfilled. Furthermore, his naval career was disregarded as soon as he became unwell.

In relation to the case, Lt Cdr ‘X’ said: “I am so very grateful for the professional, friendly manner with which my case has been dealt with by the team at Irwin Mitchell. I have had absolute honesty, reassurance and answers at every stage of the four year-long case.

“The result that was achieved is pleasing, given the complex nature of the case and the individual nuances contained within. That said, whilst the result was reflective of the levels of effort that had gone into collecting data and evidence, it only goes a very small way to repairing the damage caused to me and my family.

“My happiness, my quality of life and my long term prospects for a normal life are blighted by daily medication, failing health and constant risk of cardiac failure. Dialysis and transplant are the only certainty I have. To say that my life has changed, is an understatement. I am only glad that Irwin Mitchell has obtained a degree of security for my family.”

If you've suffered as a result of medical negligence when serving in the armed forces, our personal injury solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Armed Forces Medical Negligence Claims page for more information.

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