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Steve, aged 60, was admitted to hospital to undergo surgery to treat recurrent sinusitis and nasal congestion. He was then discharged the following day with antibiotics.
The day after being discharged, Steve sneezed and his eye immediately began to swell. He attended the same hospital early that morning and, following an examination, he was discharged with the advice to return to the hospital if the swelling did not improve.
The swelling worsened and so Steve returned to the hospital early that afternoon. Steve was re-admitted to the hospital and the treating ENT doctors contacted a second hospital to ask their ophthalmic specialists how Steve should be treated. The second hospital advised that Steve should undergo a CT scan and would probably need urgent surgery to relieve pressure inside his eye socket. The second hospital also confirmed that one of their consultant ophthalmic surgeons would attend the first hospital to perform the surgery.
The surgeon arrived at the first hospital around an hour later. The CT scan revealed that there was air trapped in Steve’s eye socket causing pressure. However, after examining Steve, the surgeon concluded that Steve did not need urgent surgery after all. Instead, Steve was transferred to the second hospital that evening for observation and non-surgical treatment.
By the following morning, Steve’s vision had deteriorated. Surgery was then performed to relieve the pressure. Unfortunately, by the time this surgery was performed, Steve had already suffered permanent and irreversible damage resulting in the loss of all vision in the eye.
Steve instructed James Wright, an expert in clinical negligence claims, to investigate claims against both hospitals. After obtaining evidence from experts in both ENT and ophthalmic surgery, a claim was pursued against the second hospital based upon the actions of their ophthalmic surgeon. The experts stated that Steve would not have lost all vision in his eye if the pressure had been relieved on the same day that Steve had been re-admitted to the first hospital.
The second hospital denied liability, arguing that an infection had spread from Steve’s nasal sinuses and that this infection had caused the permanent damage. However, following considerable negotiations, the second hospital agreed to settle Steve’s claim.