The Bron Meirion Practice, a GP surgery based in Penrhyndeudraeth, Wales, has paid damages in an out of court settlement after failing to have responded to a patient’s abnormal blood test result indicating that he was at risk of developing Type II diabetes.
Adam Wright is a specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Setfords Solicitors. He was instructed to represent a gentleman who suffered avoidable injuries after his GP practice failed to arrange appropriate follow-up for a blood test that revealed he was at risk of developing Type II Diabetes.
The Claimant, who wishes to remain anonymous, had a routine blood test in March 2016. The blood test result revealed that he was Pre-Diabetic, and at risk of developing Type II Diabetes, with an HBA1C (average glucose levels) of 46. The blood test result was forwarded to a Practice Nurse, who mistakenly marked it as requiring no further action.
As a result, the Claimant was not informed of his pre-diabetic status.
Almost two years later, in February 2018, the Claimant had a further blood test which revealed an HBA1C of 61, meaning that he had progressed into Type II Diabetes. The diagnostic threshold for this is an HBA1C of around 47 and above.
The Claimant was referred to the Diabetic Nurse, where he was educated and received advice on managing his diabetes. He was given lifestyle advice regarding exercise and diet, and he was started on Metformin (a diabetes drug). He was also informed of the possible long-term health risks he now faced due to his diagnosis.
The GP surgery conducted an investigation. In April 2018, they wrote to the Claimant explaining that the Practice Nurse had mistakenly marked the blood test result in March 2016 as requiring no further action. This meant there was a missed opportunity to inform him of his pre-diabetic status and institute exercise and dietary changes.
Following his diagnosis, the Claimant adopted a healthier lifestyle and reduced his HBA1C to 48 by September 2020, which is borderline in the Type II Diabetes range. The Claimant was angry and upset upon learning that there was an earlier opportunity to warn him of his risk of developing diabetes. He questioned whether he might have avoided his diabetes diagnosis if the March 2016 blood test had been acted upon.
Therefore, the Claimant instructed Adam Wright, a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Setfords Solicitors, to investigate the standard of care he had received and determine whether he might have avoided his diabetes with earlier detection.
After obtaining his medical records, expert evidence was obtained from a Consultant Endocrinologist & Diabetologist. The expert produced a report opining that the failure by the GP surgery to respond appropriately to the March 2016 blood test result and inform the Claimant of his pre-diabetic status amounted to a breach of duty (negligence).
Further, he formed the opinion that, had the Claimant been appropriately followed up in March 2016 and given lifestyle advice, he would have avoided the nearly two-year delay in diagnosis. In turn, this accelerated the Claimant’s progression to a Type II Diabetic by four years. In other words, with appropriate advice in March 2016, the Claimant would have delayed his inevitable diagnosis by around four years.
The expert believed that the two-year delay in diagnosis of Type II diabetes gave rise to a period of uncontrolled hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels). This was associated with fatigue, loss of energy, blurred vision, increased urinary frequency, and leg symptoms consistent with early diabetic neuropathy. The Claimant also alleged that the diagnosis impacted his ability to work, resulting in him surrendering a lucrative contract on account of his fatigue and the travel the contract entailed.
Court proceedings were commenced due to the applicable 3-year limitation period soon expiring. Shortly after that, the GP surgery’s legal representatives engaged in settlement negotiations. Whilst no formal admissions were made, it acknowledged that errors had occurred. Although, it disputed that a number of the Claimant’s symptoms were associated with the delay in diagnosing Type II diabetes. It was argued that these symptoms might have been caused by other medical conditions the Claimant had.
Ultimately, an out of court settlement was achieved where the Claimant secured damages equating to tens of thousands of pounds, bringing court proceedings to a close. Upon conclusion of the claim, the Claimant said;
“I was really angry and upset when I learned of the mistake. I received an apology letter but this failed to acknowledge the real impact it had upon me personally, both physically and mentally. Despite what I have been through, it was a real pleasure to work with Setfords and they fought my case well. The money received will help to put a few wrongs right, but the greatest reward and the motivation for bringing the claim was to ensure that the Bron Meirion Surgery learned from these mistakes. I hope that they have introduced new systems and processes as a consequence of my case, to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone again in the future.”