Locum receives letter from a patient's solicitor alleging delays in diagnosis and treatment

What happened

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Tim (not his real name) was working as a self-employed locum optometrist within an eye clinic offering a glaucoma monitoring service. He contacted us in 2021 following receipt of a letter from a patient’s solicitors which indicated that a clinical negligence claim was contemplated against him. The claim was said to be in respect of alleged delays in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma. Tim had been involved in the patient’s care on three occasions, acting as a data collection clinician, providing clinical measurements and his impression of the findings.

How we helped

Having contacted the AOP for advice, Tim was assigned a solicitor in the clinical negligence team who reviewed the correspondence sent and explained what to expect by way of next steps. We then contacted the patient’s solicitors to advise that the AOP would be handling the claim on Tim’s behalf and that any further correspondence should be sent to the AOP direct.

When a Letter of Claim was served, we reviewed the medical records provided and requested Tim’s written account of events. An opinion on the merits of the claim against Tim was also sought from an AOP clinical advisor.

The clinical advisor was supportive of Tim’s actions - it was clear that Tim had been following the eye clinic’s internal protocols at all times and every episode of care was reviewed by a consultant ophthalmologist who determined the patient’s final diagnosis, outcome, and management plan.

Tim’s solicitor therefore prepared a robust Letter of Response disputing the allegations of negligence against him, noting that the claim should be re-directed to the consultant ophthalmologist with overall responsibility, rather than Tim.

The outcome

The Letter of Response was sent to the patient’s solicitors and was subsequently challenged by them. Following further protracted and robust correspondence, the patient’s solicitors confirmed eight months later that the claim against Tim had been discontinued.

As with many of our members, Tim found being the subject of clinical negligence claim stressful. He was nevertheless “very satisfied” with the outcome and the AOP’s handling of his case, praising his solicitor for their support and “great” communication throughout.