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Browne Jacobson successfully defends clinical negligence claim for MPS

4 July 2019

National law firm Browne Jacobson has successfully acted as legal advisers to Medical Protection Society (MPS) in connection with a clinical negligence claim against Mr R, a Consultant Ophthalmologist for the alleged delay in diagnosis of a retinal detachment allegedly leading to loss of vision in the claimant’s peripheral field and in her colour vision.

The judgment was formally handed down on 25 June at the High Court by Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith. The background to the case was the claimant who was an artist had dealt with a number of difficulties with her eye sight which had allegedly caused her anxiety and stress. The claimant then visited an optician who referred her on to the defendant Mr R who recommended cataract surgery, subject to an optician being in a position to do something else to assist. The optician concluded there was nothing further they could do and that the claimant should go ahead with the cataract surgery. The claimant underwent the surgery on 19 October 2012 with no initial concerns, however soon after, the claimant started to suffer from significant visual deterioration. On 30 October 2012, it was determined the claimant had suffered with a left posterior vitreous detachment and an inferior retinal detachment with a repair undertaken on that day. The claimant’s vision returned, but it was claimed that she had been left with significant reduction of colour in the left eye which impacted her profession as an artist and caused her further anxiety, depression and PTSD. The claim was pursued on the basis that Mr R had ignored the claimant’s complaint of a ‘shroud’, which was consistent with a retinal detachment, and that Mr R had failed to diagnose the detachment as he did not conduct a thorough examination. It was alleged the cataract surgery was inappropriate due to the existence of a retinal detachment.

The claim was rejected on the basis of the evidence of two ophthalmic experts, Mr Robert Cooling and Professor Simon Taylor which was “compelling and supported a conclusion that this was a short-lived detachment”. The judge concluded the detachment was likely to have occurred after the consultations with Mr R and did not accept the evidence of Mr Dominic McHugh instructed by the claimant. The judge rejected the claimant’s account that she reported a shroud and also accepted Mr R’s evidence that he did perform the necessary examination in August 2012.

The Browne Jacobson team was led by senior associate lawyer Louise Jackson. Louise commented on the case:

“This case has demonstrated the importance of ensuring that the complex medical issues are properly presented to the court and to defend the actions of practitioners where the factual evidence is also in dispute and the medical evidence does not support the factual account given by the claimant.”

Sarah Manning, a partner in the firm’s health law practice added:

“Louise has worked very closely with our client over the last few years to support them in achieving this fantastic result.

“MPS is committed to protecting the career and reputation of its valuable members, putting them at the forefront of what it does and we are confident that this judgment will be of great reassurance for those members to continue practicing with confidence.”

Warren Forsyth, Senior Claims Manager and Solicitor at MPS also said:

“We are delighted that Louise and the Browne Jacobson team have been able to assist Medical Protection in successfully defending our member in this complex claim.

“I know Louise put her heart and soul into this case, so I would particularly like to thank her for everything she did. I was really impressed by Louise’s in depth knowledge and grip of the action”

Mr R thanked Louise and the Browne Jacobson team:

“You guided me through this long and difficult passage in a very human way which enabled me both to face the legal issues head on and to function professionally and personally.

“I would also like to add that MPS members should be aware that they employ the very best legal teams and that they clearly act in their members best interests.”

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