Failure to diagnose temporal arteritis - £30,000

Edwina, London

Edwina, 56, permanently lost virtually all vision in her right eye after a GP failed to recognise that she could be suffering from temporal arteritis and send her for the appropriate blood tests. This was despite the fact that she had classic signs and was in the age category most commonly affected.  

Temporal arteritis (also known as giant cell arteritis) is a condition that causes swelling on the inside of some blood vessels, commonly those around the head and neck area. It is recognised as ophthalmic emergency as it can cause lost vision and patients can deteriorate quickly.

However the condition is treatable and if the patient receives the right medication in time their vision can be saved. 

Warning signs

Edwina’s first symptom was pain in her biceps, which a couple of months later had spread to her left shoulder. She went to see her GP who gave her cortisone injections for her left shoulder and referred her for physiotherapy. 

Three months later Edwina’s left shoulder pain moved across her back and up the back of her head and was causing her to suffer headaches. A few weeks later Edwina’s symptoms had become more severe and she developed scalp tenderness and jaw pain. Due to this pain she was struggling to comb her hair and eating was also problematic.

As Edwina had an appointment booked in two weeks with her GP to review some on-going medication she was taking she decided to wait for this appointment to discuss her new symptoms.

Edwina saw the same GP who had first assessed her and described all of her new symptoms. The GP suggested that the pains in her head and jaw could be due to a trapped nerve close by to her problematic shoulder. The GP prescribed medication to calm the nerve ending however the medication had no impact whatsoever.

Delayed diagnosis 

The next month Edwina began to experience problems with her vision, which started with blurring in the bottom of her right eye. The next day the blurring had reached just over two thirds of her eye so she made an appointment with the doctors’ surgery and this time was seen by a different GP. Edwina described her other symptoms of pain in her head and jaw and asked if this could be connected to her visual disturbances. The doctor said they were not related and told Edwina to see her optician at some point but gave the impression that there was nothing to worry about.

Two days later Edwina’s right eye was completely blurred and she had lost all vision in it. She called the opticians to obtain an appointment who on hearing her symptoms advised her to go straight to A&E. Edwina did as they advised and after arriving at hospital was assessed by a specialist eye doctor within half an hour, who correctly diagnosed temporal arteritis.

The doctor began treatment right away however it was now too late to save the vision in her right eye. To preserve the vision in her left eye Edwina was told she would need to take steroids for two years. 

Compensation secured 

Edwina felt that something had gone wrong with her treatment and contacted the specialist solicitors at JMW for advice. Her case was taken on by Katie Nolan, who specialises in cases involving lost vision. Katie found it was negligent of the GP not to have considered a diagnosis of temporal arteritis given her symptoms. Katie also found it was negligent of the doctor not to send Edwina for the appropriate blood test, thus delaying her treatment.

The case was successful and Edwina was awarded £30,000 in compensation to help her to cope with her limited vision. 

Get in touch

If you or someone you know has 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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