Pensioner With Suspected Wet MD Added To Waiting List Rather Than Being Seen Within Nationally Recommended Two Weeks
A pensioner is warning of the dangers of a common eye condition after a six month treatment delay left her with permanent sight problems.
Linda Bragg was referred to Worcestershire Royal Hospital after an optician diagnosed her with suspected wet age-related macular degeneration (wet MD), a condition which affects the central part of vision. The condition came on suddenly over two weeks. The optician suspected this straight away and made the referral as soon as it was identified.
Patient phoned Worcestershire hospital three times asking for an appointment
The hospital added Linda to a retina clinic waiting list rather than seeing her within two weeks as National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines recommend.
A month after the first referral Linda, of Kidderminster, was referred to the hospital for a second time by the optician after her sight continued to deteriorate.
However, the 71-year-old who said she had phoned three times asking for an appointment wasn’t seen by a doctor until nearly six months after her first referral.
The mum-of-two, grandmother-of-three and great-grandmother-of-three, was diagnosed with wet MD. She had five injections in a bid to improve her vision but these were unsuccessful. Linda, who is married to Pete, has been left with permanent reduced vision.
Medical negligence Lawyers investigate eye patient's six-month care delay
The former phlebotomist is now eligible to be registered as partially sighted. She instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
Linda has now joined her legal team in using National Eye Health Week to call for lessons to be learned. It comes after the Trust admitted a breach of duty and apologised to Linda.
Six-month delay left significant and irreversible sight damage
The Trust admitted a six month delay in treating Linda resulted in her suffering a significant and irreversible deterioration in her vision. If she had received treatment within two weeks it was likely that Linda would have retained more of her vision, it added.
Expert Opinion“Linda has been left devastated by what happened to her and how she has lost a lot of her independence because of her greatly reduced sight.
“While wet MD can develop very suddenly it can be treated if caught quickly which we believe it would have been if the Trust had followed national best practice guidelines.
“While we welcome the Trust’s admissions and apology, it’s now vital that lessons are learned to improve patient care and safety for others.
“We join Linda in warning of the dangers of the condition and urge others to seek specialist advice as soon as possible if they start experiencing symptoms.” Jenna Harris - Partner
Wet MD: Linda Bragg's story
Linda was referred to hospital with suspected wet MD on 6 December, 2018, following an optician appointment when she complained of a round shadow in her right vision.
A second referral asking Linda be reviewed by the hospital’s wet MD service was made by the optician on 9 January, 2019. The referral included concerns about her deteriorating vision.
Following this Linda said she called the hospital three further times and was told she was on a waiting list. She was seen by a doctor on 5 June, 2019, and wet MD diagnosed. Linda underwent injections but her sight did not improve.
Worcestershire Acute Hospital NHS Trust also admitted that Linda’s first referral from her optician should have been classed as urgent. It also failed to ensure that she was sent an urgent appointment for a hospital consultation following the second referral in January 2019.
Linda raises awareness of signs of eye condition
Linda said: “The past couple of years have been the hardest of my life. My vision is vastly reduced and I have problems making out people or objects because there’s a big black hole in the middle.
“It means that I’ve lost a lot of my independence and am a lot more reliant on my family. I even often need help with simple things such as reading, using my phone, gardening or grooming my dog.
“I’d never even heard of wet MD before all of this. What makes everything much harder to accept is that the problems I suffer from now wouldn’t have been as bad if it wasn’t for the delay in treating me.
“My optician spotted straight away something was wrong. Despite this and me chasing up several times it felt like the hospital didn’t understand the seriousness of my condition. It’s difficult not to think how life would be totally different if I received the urgent care I needed.
“I just hope that by sharing my story I can help raise awareness of wet MD so others have an understanding of it. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through the ordeal I have.”
Symptoms of wet age-related macular degeneration
The first symptom of wet MD is often a blurred or distorted area in sight. Other symptoms include seeing straight lines as wavy, objects looking smaller than normal or colours seeming less bright.
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people following diagnosis and care delays at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
National Eye Health Weeks runs from 20-26 September. For more information visit www.visionmatters.org.uk