Delayed Detection of a Foreign Body in the Eye

Delayed Detection of a Foreign Body in the Eye
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Case by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam Updated:

Delayed Detection Claim

The following case involves the delayed detection of a foreign body in our client’s eye. Despite seeking immediate medical attention at Great Western Hospital, the foreign body was not identified until almost a month later by her GP. This led to our client experiencing significant pain, misdiagnosis, and psychological distress.

Background

On 10th August 2021, our client experienced a foreign body fly into her left eye while she was seated on a grassy field. The incident caused her significant pain and discomfort throughout the day. As a result of the persisting discomfort, she sought medical attention at Great Western Hospital in the early hours of 11th August 2021.

Initial Medical Attention

Despite multiple assessments at Great Western Hospital, medical staff failed to detect the foreign body in her left eye. The hospital staff eventually referred our client to an Ophthalmologist. On 20th August 2021, the Ophthalmologist diagnosed her with a large, slow-healing corneal abrasion in the left eye and placed a bandage contact lens to aid in the healing process. She was reassessed on 31st August 2021 and subsequently discharged.

Subsequent Diagnosis and Removal

The foreign body remained undetected until our client visited her GP practice on 6th September 2021. The GP successfully identified and removed the foreign body from her left eye using tweezers. The GP practice then communicated with the hospital on 9th September 2021, raising concerns over the hospital’s failure to adequately examine our client’s eye, particularly the upper fornix area, despite her repeated complaints and the history suggesting the presence of a foreign body.

Allegations of Substandard Care

The allegation is that the care provided to our client fell below the expected level for similarly qualified and experienced practitioners in a comparable clinical setting. The key points of concern are:

1. Initial Examination Failure: The hospital failed to assess our client for a foreign body in her left eye during her visit on 11th August 2021.
2. Incomplete Examination: There was a failure to conduct a thorough examination based on our client’s complaints of a foreign body in her left eye.
3. Documentation Errors: Hospital records inaccurately documented a diagnosis of a foreign body in the right eye, whereas the issue was with the left eye.
4. Ophthalmologist’s Oversight: The examination and subsequent treatment plan by the Ophthalmologist did not address the actual issue of the foreign body in the left eye.
5. Subtarsal/Superior Fornix Examination: The hospital failed to examine for a subtarsal/superior fornix foreign body during all visits.
6. Inappropriate Treatment: The use of a bandage contact lens without excluding the presence of a foreign body exposed our client to unnecessary risks, including bacterial keratitis.
7. Misdiagnosis: Our client was incorrectly advised that her symptoms were due to papillary conjunctivitis, which does not cause linear corneal abrasion, unlike a subtarsal/superior fornix foreign body.

Impact on Client

The failure to promptly diagnose and remove the foreign body led to our client’s significant distress and mistrust in the hospital. The foreign object, identified as likely being from a fox’s tail, caused sharp pain, disrupted sleep, and psychological distress. As a mother to a newborn, our Client found it challenging to care for her children with one compromised eye, resulting in increased anxiety and psychological distress.

Conclusion

With the help of AWH’s medical negligence solicitors, our client was able to secure a settlement of £2,300 in acknowledgement of the hospital’s error and aid in their recovery.

This case highlights the critical importance of thorough and accurate medical examinations in response to patient complaints. The delayed detection and issuing of appropriate treatment had a significant impact on our client’s physical and mental well-being, highlighting the necessity for adherence to clinical examination protocols and accurate documentation in medical practice.