Over £500K settlement after diagnosis delays for woman with Cushing’s syndrome

Novum Law’s specialist medical negligence team has secured over £500,000 for a woman who suffered significant pain for many years after doctors failed to diagnose Cushing’s syndrome.

Mrs T had a long history of symptoms which were diagnosed by her GP as acute sinusitis. For many years, she frequently went to her GP complaining of painful, recurring chronic sinusitis symptoms. This was treated by repeated courses of antibiotics.

Mrs T’s symptoms began to worsen and she suffered continuously from headaches and facial pain. She sought further treatment and the possibility of surgery was considered. A referral was then made to the ENT department at St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight.

At her initial consultation, she was correctly diagnosed as suffering from rhinosinusitis. The plan was to treat her medically and if this failed to consider surgical intervention.

A few months later, Mrs T returned to the hospital for a follow-up appointment where she was seen by a different ENT doctor. This time, she was given a different diagnosis and told she was suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. She was then discharged back to the care of her GP without any further diagnostics, such as imaging, and not given any medical treatment.

In fact, Mrs T was not suffering from trigeminal neuralgia and was continuing to suffer from chronic sinusitis – as previously and correctly diagnosed by both her GP and the first ENT doctor at the hospital.

She continued to experience symptoms but her GP struggled to help her manage her condition because the correct diagnosis of sinusitis had been dismissed. A diagnosis of Giant Cell Arteritis (CA) was subsequently considered and Mrs T started a high dose of steroids to prevent potentially irreversible damage to her eyesight.

A referral was made to the ophthalmology and rheumatology clinics at the hospital. The ophthalmology department advised there were no ophthalmic signs of GCA and discharged Mrs T, however, the rheumatology department considered it was ‘quite likely’ that she was suffering from GCA.

Unfortunately, Mrs T was not suffering (and had never suffered) from GCA and was continuing to suffer from the debilitating effects of chronic sinusitis.

While the steroids Mrs T was prescribed appeared to improve her sinus-related symptoms because their anti-inflammatory properties lessened the effects of the sinusitis, they did not cure her sinusitis. Sadly, as a result of the high doses of steroids, she developed a condition known as Cushing’s syndrome.

Cushing’s syndrome is a condition caused by having too much of a hormone called cortisol in your body and it can be extremely serious if it is not treated. The condition significantly impaired Mrs T’s mobility and she suffered bouts of breathlessness.

She was eventually referred back to the ENT department at the hospital where a CT scan of her sinuses revealed there was significant damage to her sinuses. Mrs T then had to have a number of surgical procedures to repair the damage to her sinuses, which included large quantities of bone being drilled away. This alleviated her sinus-related symptoms but did not resolve her Cushing’s syndrome. She now suffers from permanent adrenal suppression which means that she will have to take steroid medication for the rest of her life.

Compensation for diagnosis delays

Novum Law’s medical negligence solicitors pursued a claim on Mrs T’s behalf against the hospital on the basis that the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia was ill-considered and that given the previous diagnosis of sinusitis, a CT scan of the sinuses should have been arranged and a review appointment afterwards. The diagnosis of rhinosinusitis should have been confirmed.

If Mrs T had been given a CT scan of her sinuses, it would have confirmed the diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis and she would have had far less invasive and painful surgical procedures.
It is likely Mrs T would have made an excellent recovery and would have been free of any sinus-related symptoms within a few months of the procedure. Furthermore, the mistaken diagnoses and treatment of trigeminal neuralgia and GCA would not have been made and she would not have been given high steroid dosages which caused the Cushing’s syndrome.

Although liability was initially denied by the Trust, Novum Law secured Mrs T £565,000 compensation at a Joint Settlement Meeting.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, delayed treatment, treatment errors or any other medical negligence, then please get in touch. Call Novum Law on Freephone 0800 884 0777, email: info@novumlaw.com or complete the enquiry form on this page.

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