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Case Study

GP negligence leads to blindness in left eye

Gareth attended his GP’s surgery because he had been experiencing pain around the jaw and temple with flashing lights and intermittent blindness for a period of at least two weeks in January 2000.

In addition Gareth had lost a significant amount of weight. His GP said he could not find any abnormality. He was prescribed painkillers and advised to tie a scarf tightly around his face whilst eating.

On 26 January 2000, Gareth telephoned NHS Direct complaining of “trouble in his temple”. He was advised to return to his GP. On 28 January, Gareth visited his GP and explained that his symptoms had worsened. He was unable to eat and was now experiencing deafness. He was prescribed eardrops.

On 9 February Gareth was still unwell and his GP visited him at home. Gareth requested a letter of referral to a specialist and after much discussion the GP asked him to visit the surgery the following day to collect a referral letter, even though Gareth said that he was not well enough to attend the GP surgery. On 17 February Gareth managed to visit his GP’s surgery.

However, the letter of referral had not been written. On 18 February Gareth visited his GP and demanded the letter of referral and an urgent referral was made to the eye department at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Gareth was hospitalised immediately and remained an in-patient for six days. A diagnosis of temporal arteritis was made. He underwent a temporal artery biopsy under local anaesthetic on 20 February.

Even with the introduction of steroids Gareth has not regained his vision in his left eye but his other symptoms have resolved. He was discharged home from St Thomas’ Hospital on 23 February and attended outpatients’ appointments thereafter. Gareth instructed us in November 2000.

The case was conducted under a no win, no fee basis. Proceedings were issued on 12 June 2002. Following negotiation, the claim settled in the sum of £25,000.

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For further information about GP negligence claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 03304606804 or email


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