27th June 2019
Lionel Stride, instructed by Louise Jackson of Browne Jacobson LLP, successfully represented the Second Defendant in a claim arising out of alleged ophthalmological negligence, which was heard over six days in the Norwich (and Cambridge) County Court. The Court was persuaded that the Second Defendant had acted competently when undertaking an ophthalmic examination at his own private clinic (prior to transfer to an NHS hospital); and that the Claimant had failed to establish that her subsequent retinal detachment could in any event have been diagnosed at either of his two assessments. HHJ Walden-Smith, sitting in her capacity as a High Court Judge, dismissed the claim in a reserved judgment handed down on 27 June 2019.
The claim was brought against the NHS Commissioning Board and the Claimant’s treating ophthalmologist in respect of alleged negligence during two separate eye examinations conducted by the Second Defendant in 2012. The Claimant’s case was that there was a failure on the part of the Second Defendant to conduct detailed retinal examinations, leading in turn to a failure to diagnose an inferior retinal detachment or perform immediate surgery. It was alleged that this had subsequently resulted in sudden loss of visual acuity, multiple operations, permanent reduction in colour vision and to her visual field, PTSD and an Adjustment Disorder.
Delivering judgment in favour of the Defendants, HHJ Walden-Smith agreed with Mr Stride’s submissions that the Claimant had not suffered a retinal detachment that was capable of clinical diagnosis by the Second Defendant at the time of either of the two examinations that he had performed; and that his first examination had been appropriate in any event (the First Defendant had made an early limited admission of breach of duty in respect of the second examination without the Second Defendant’s consent). She found that, whilst honest, the Claimant had mis-remembered the timing of onset of critical symptoms (such as the presence of a ‘shroud’) and preferred the evidence of the Defendants’ experts that the lack of any evidence of chronicity suggested that the inferior retinal detachment had occurred rapidly after the examinations.