Medical Negligence claims following delays in diagnosing giant cell arteritis/temporal arteritis

7 January 2021

What is Giant Cell Arteritis ("GCA")/ Temporal Arteritis?
Giant cell arteritis is an inflammation of the lining of your arteries. Most often, it affects the arteries in your head, especially those surrounding your temples and the sides of your head and face. The condition only affects adults and most commonly, those between the ages of 70 and 80. Women are approximately two times more likely to develop the condition than men. 
What are the signs and symptoms of GCA/Temporal Arteritis?
GCA or temporal arteritis frequently causes:
  • Headaches (often severe);
  • Scalp tenderness;
  • Jaw pain; and
  • Vision problems. 
What is the treatment for GCA/Temporal Arteritis
Treatment is with corticosteroids. If treated promptly, this can usually relieve the symptoms relatively quickly and the risk of loss of vision is significantly reduced. If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to blindness.

How can the diagnosis be missed?
I have acted for a number of Claimants in medical negligence cases, where they have sadly sustained a loss of eyesight, due to the delay in diagnosis of GCA/temporal arteritis. In each case, the symptoms of headache and jaw pain where mistakenly thought to be from other causes and this led to delays in the diagnosis and treatment of GCA.
Compensation in medical negligence cases
Losing sight in one or both eyes, as a result of negligent delays in diagnosing and treating GCA/temporal arteritis, is a severe and devastating injury and the law relating to compensation for such an injury reflects that.
Compensation awards for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for the loss of eyesight in one eye can range between £46,000-£51,000. For the loss of eyesight in both eyes, this increases to approximately £252,000.  This does not include compensation for other financial losses you may have incurred, for example, past and future care costs, accommodation costs, future medical treatment and aids and equipment costs. 
In the cases I have settled, each of the settlement sums have been for six figures but this can vary, depending on the severity of the injury and the circumstances of the case.


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