Client awarded £85,000 compensation after partially losing her vision following eye surgery

17 January 2022

Our medical negligence solicitors supported a client after she suffered a retinal detachment because of negligent eye surgery. We obtained expert evidence from a specialist eye surgeon, who confirmed there were far safer alternatives that would have avoided the rupture that led to the loss of her vision.

Client situation

Ms S contacted Co-op Legal Services in 2018 in relation to right eye cataract surgery, which she had undergone at a local hospital in 2017.

As part of the surgery, a right radial keratotomy was performed to correct astigmatism and the lens chosen was 26.5D. Post-surgery, Ms S had reduced distance vision and much improved short distance vision in the right eye, which was the opposite of the intended benefit of the surgery.

In August 2017, Ms S underwent a lens replacement procedure, where the previous 26.5D lens was removed and a 23.5D lens was inserted. The following day, Ms S attended a pre-arranged appointment with her consultant ophthalmologist. When the dressings were removed, she had no vision at all. She was diagnosed with corneal oedema and was told this could take up to 2 months to recover from.

In September 2017, Ms S was reviewed again. The consultant ophthalmologist advised that the cornea was fine but diagnosed a retinal detachment and he thought the “macula was off” (this is part of the retina at the back of the eye). He advised that Ms S needed to see a retinal surgeon and a referral to another hospital was made.

Ms S did not receive any contact from the hospital and so attended A&E where she was diagnosed with retinal detachment in her right eye and underwent a procedure. The technical term for her diagnosis was “right rhegmatogenous retinal detachment – macula off” and the procedure was a “right vitrectomy, right cryotherapy retinopexy and right injection of gas.”

Following the procedure, Ms S attended a follow-up appointment, where the retina was found to be detached again, and she underwent a second surgery. Following the second surgery, vision in her right eye was confirmed to be 6/60 on the Snellen scale, meaning she was left partially sighted.

How we helped

Ms S approached Co-op Legal Services in March 2018. Our medical negligence solicitors provided Ms S with an initial assessment of her claim and agreed to act on her behalf.

Co-op Legal Services wrote to the defendant inviting them to make an early admission of liability. The defendant failed to make any early admissions, so our medical negligence team proceeded to establish the negligence and the extent of Ms S’s injuries and suffering by:

  • obtaining copies of the medical records
  • preparing a witness statement for Ms S
  • obtaining expert evidence from a consultant ophthalmic surgeon
  • obtaining expert evidence from a consultant psychiatrist

The expert consultant ophthalmic surgeon confirmed that, amongst other things, there had been a failure to take Ms S’s informed consent prior to the lens replacement surgery. There were far safer alternatives that would have avoided the posterior capsule rupture that led to the retinal detachment and loss of her vision.

The expert consultant psychiatrist confirmed that the negligence had worsened Ms S’s mixed anxiety and depressive disorder and had caused a separate general anxiety disorder.

Once the above steps had been taken, Co-op Legal Services wrote to the defendant setting out:

  • the full details of Ms S’s claim
  • the evidence in support of the claim
  • a schedule of loss detailing the appropriate amount of compensation that should be paid, along with an offer to settle

The outcome

The defendant responded by denying the claim and inviting Ms S to withdraw her claim. Co-op Legal Services issued the claim at court and then served formal court documents on the defendant. The defendant subsequently offered £75,000 to settle the claim. Co-op Legal Services rejected this offer and negotiations continued with the claim finally settling for £85,000.

This was a prolonged, difficult and complex case that was denied by the defendant throughout but with the assistance of Co-op Legal Services, a fair settlement was reached.

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