Case Study: Failure to Diagnose Temporal Arteritis Leads to Vision Loss

Compensation: £30,000

Joan, 79 years old, Gateshead

With JMW's help a woman has received £30,000 compensation after doctors failure to diagnose Temporal Arteritis led to him losing his vision.

At the age of 79, Joan began to suffer from severe pounding headaches.  She saw her General Practitioner a month later.  She told her doctor about the headaches, that they were thumping in nature, they affected the top and sides of her head and they were associated with earache like symptoms.  The pain radiated down the neck.

Her GP told Joan that her headaches were due to arthritis in her spine and prescribed Ibuprofen and Paracetamol or Co-codamol. Joan's headaches persisted and she became bedridden. 

Condition repeatedly missed by GP

A few days later her doctor visited Joan at home. She again described severe headaches particularly in the top of her head.  They remained thumping in nature and continued to affect the top and sides of her head.  Her scalp was extremely sensitive and tender to touch.  Combing her hair was painful.  The earache pain made eating and chewing painful and difficult. Her GP prescribed an anti-depressant Citalopram in addition to her Ibuprofen.

Joan's headaches persisted and she developed earache and pain in her jaw when eating.  The medication gave her only temporary relief.

Joan saw her doctor again 2 weeks later accompanied by her husband and again symptoms were related.  She had severe pounding headaches, they affected the top and side of her head, she had pain in her ears and jaw and eating remained painful and difficult.  The GP took blood samples and increased her Citalopram dosage.

Joan’s headaches persisted and she continued to complain of pain and tenderness in her scalp, temples and ears.  She also became confused and her speech became slurred. Joan saw the doctor again and he noted that the blood test results showed that she was anaemic.  She was referred for a hospital appointment

Joan’s headache got worse and became continuous, the tenderness extended over her skull, her earache pain was worse especially when she ate.  Her husband telephoned the hospital to hurry up the appointment.

Eventual diagnosis but too late to prevent permanent damage

A week later Joan woke up with impaired vision. She and her husband thought this was due to her anaemia and having lost faith in her GP decided to wait for the appointment at hospital.  Her vision deteriorated over the next few days.  When she had her hospital appointment she was examined thoroughly and admitted as an emergency.  She was diagnosed as having temporal arteritis and she was treated with steroids. The treatment came too late and Joan was left with impaired vision in one eye.


Joan was represented by JMW’s expert solicitors and received £30,000 in compensation for her doctor’s negligence.


If you believe you have suffered in a similar way, give us a call to discuss the situation and to see whether you could be entitled to compensation. Ring us today on 0800 054 6512, or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our friendly team will get in touch with you. 

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