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Failure to Diagnose Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

L was born by emergency caesarean section at a gestation age of just 25 weeks. When he was born he weighed just 600 grams.

Due to his prematurity L was deemed to be at risk of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and was initially examined. No signs were seen, but those treating L failed to reassess him, leading to the development of ROP.

L received emergency laser eye treatment but still lost vision in his left eye.

Our approach

This claim was particularly complicated as due to L’s prematurity he also suffers from cerebral palsy, and restricted movement. We argued that the potential for L to develop ROP should have been taken more seriously, and more checks should have been carried out. In our opinion, such checks could have saved the sight in his left eye.

We used experts from the fields of Paediatric Neurology, Occupational Therapy and Paediatrics to support the claim.

The outcome

The hospital admitted liability and apologised to L and his family, and he received a large award. This award will allow L to receive the care and therapy he needs for the rest of his life, and allow his family to purchase suitable single storey accommodation to meet his physical needs.

The case in detail

L was born by emergency caesarean section at a gestation age of just 25 weeks. He weighed only 660 grams. For the first few weeks of life he was critically ill with many life threatening disorders. Because of his prematurity, L was at risk of developing a Retinopathy of Prematurity otherwise known as ROP. He was initially examined by the Consultant Ophthalmologist. There were no signs of ROP. However, there should have been a further review by the Consultant Ophthalmologist but this review was not undertaken and when L was eventually examined ROP was detected. It was necessary for L to receive urgent laser treatment. Unfortunately the ROP in his left eye had progressed and the eye was blind but it was possible to save some of the vision in his right eye.

This was a complex claim to investigate especially when there was a risk of ROP in any event but it was possible for the expert team at Minton Morrills to prove through independent expert medical evidence that the ROP could and should have been detected earlier and had it been detected and treated earlier L would have retained some useful vision

The claim was further complicated because L had other injuries because of his prematurity to include restricted mobility and he suffered from mild cerebral palsy.

We were able to secure an admission of liability from the hospital who also apologised to L and his family. To quantify the claim was difficult because of L’s other medical problems but with the aid of experts in the fields of care, Paediatric Neurology, Occupational Therapy, Paediatrics and accommodation it was possible to secure a large award for L to compensate him for the  loss of vision which is likely to result in the need for L to receive additional care and therapy assistance for the rest of his life. It will also allow his family to purchase single storey accommodation fully adapted to meet L’s physical and visual needs.