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£65,000 compensation after hospital failings cost Shrewsbury grandad sight in one eye

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Health | Published:

A fit and healthy grandfather of four from Shrewsbury has been awarded £65,000 compensation having lost the sight in one eye after an on-call hospital ophthalmologist failed to treat his symptoms on New Year’s Day.

Andrew Baker

Andrew Baker, 74, woke up on January 1, 2017, with black spots in front of his eyes.

When the black spots started to turn into floaters, redness, pain and loss of vision in his right eye later that day, Mr Baker - who had never experienced issues with his sight before - took the advice of his GP son-in-law and went straight to A&E at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen, near to where he lived at the time.

He was seen by a doctor and his condition was discussed with the on-call ophthalmologist over the phone. Diagnosed with vitreous haemorrhage and with a plan put in place for him to be provided with ointment and analgesia, Mr Baker went home.

Had Mr Baker, who now lives in Sundorne, been examined by an ophthalmologist, it would have been confirmed as an ophthalmic emergency and he would have undergone a vitreous biopsy and antibiotic injections, which would have saved some of the sight in his right eye.

The following day, Mr Baker woke up to find that he was completely blind in his right eye and in severe pain. He attended the hospital's eye clinic and was diagnosed with endogenous endophthalmitis – a very severe sight-threatening condition. He was then told that a mistake had been made and that the two days in between his symptoms first appearing and his condition being confirmed had been critical with his sight loss.

On January 6, Mr Baker was operated on to try to save the vision in his right eye, however this proved unsuccessful and he lost complete vision in his right eye. He subsequently required an operation to repair the inward turning of the eyelid and in the future, will need an operation to remove the eye.

He instructed solicitors Fletchers to begin a negligence claim against the Hywel Dda University Health Board on his behalf.

Devastating

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They successfully pursued the claim and Mr Baker was awarded £65,000 from the hospital for the delay in diagnosis.

Andrew Tindall, litigation executive at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “The facts of this case go to show just how important physical examinations of patients are, and that in some instances a diagnosis over the telephone can have devastating consequences.”

After his operation, Mr Baker's health went rapidly downhill. He had a mini stroke and had to have a double heart bypass.

Mr Baker said: “I just wanted an apology and someone to say that they were sorry for letting this happen to me. I’ve known people who have lost their vision, but I didn’t appreciate the impact it has on your life - it’s completely ruined my life. I can’t drive or read anymore; there is so much that I am no longer able to do.”

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Mr Baker has had three operations to try to repair his eye and give him some vision back, but each operation has failed.

Joe Teape, deputy chief executive for Hywel Dda University Health Board said: "We unreservedly apologise for the failings identified in the Health Board’s treatment and care provided to Mr Baker in January 2017 and for the loss of sight in Mr Baker's right eye.

"We wish to reassure Mr Baker that we have taken this matter extremely seriously and we have undertaken significant steps to ensure that lessons have been learnt from this case."

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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