Delay in diagnosis of olfactory neuroblastoma led to settlement

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Miss J had suffered for some time with watering in her left eye. She was referred by her GP to see an ophthalmologist at the defendant hospital trust, who diagnosed her with a blocked naso-lacrimal duct.

This diagnosis was made on the basis of a sac washout alone. Miss J underwent a surgical procedure to unblock the duct and ensure proper drainage of her tears (a dacryocystorhinostomy, or DCR). During that procedure it was noted that Miss J had a significant amount of blood loss but no further investigations were performed. This took place in 2008 and there were no further follow ups.

In 2010 Miss J again started to experience the same symptoms of watering as initially in 2008. After referral to hospital CT scanning was carried out and a biopsy of the left nasal sinus was performed. This revealed the presence of an olfactory neuroblastoma. Miss J underwent endoscopic resection of the neuroblastoma which was followed by radiotherapy. Further tests fortunately showed no recurrence of the disease, but as a result of that the delay in diagnosis of her condition Miss J required more extensive removal surgery and as a result suffered from facial disfiguration that required significant facial reconstruction surgery. She also suffered from double vision, a sunken eye and loss of movement in her left eye.

Our client's allegations were that had she been investigated and diagnosed properly (i.e. in 2008) she would have undergone surgery much earlier, and, as a result, that surgery would have been less invasive. Her facial disfigurement and associated symptoms would therefore also have been significantly less severe.

Miss J got in touch with our Clinical Negligence team in May 2011 and instructed Joanna Burkhart, solicitor in the team, to act on her behalf.

The defendant trust denied liability and, on the basis of the independent medical expert obtained, court proceedings were therefore issued and served on the trust, who continued to deny liability.

The trust argued that not only had there been no delay in diagnosis, that even if the diagnosis had been made earlier, the outcome for Miss J would not have been significantly different. Despite this denial of liability however the trust was willing to negotiate settlement, and the claim settled in May 2014 for £50,000.

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