NHS ombudsman criticises GP surgery for failure to diagnose a stroke

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has made a finding against a GP surgery for failure to diagnose a stroke, writes Oliver Thorne, a specialist medical negligence lawyer who features in both The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners legal directories.

The patient had visited his GP complaining of feeling dizzy, experiencing light-headedness, and having a numb foot.

These symptoms had been caused by a stroke and the patient should have been sent to hospital immediately.

However the man was diagnosed with a ‘dropped foot’ and further investigations were never followed up.

A month later, when the man suffered a blinding headache and diminished vision, his ophthalmologist referred him for specialist review. This established that he had suffered another stroke.

As a result of the second stroke the patient lost vision in one eye, and was told this could be permanent. Fortunately, his sight returned eight weeks later.

The PHSO found that the GP should have suspected a stroke at the first consultation. If he had been referred on then in all probability the second stroke and sight loss would not have occurred.

The Ombudsman said, “Mistakes like these need to be recognised and acted upon so that they are not repeated.”

The GP surgery, which has been told to create an action plan to minimise the chance of it happening in the future, has apologised to the patient and made a payment for his distress and expenses.

Oliver and his team operate a free medical accident helpline which you can phone or email. So, if you have suffered as a result of a failure to diagnose a stroke then call us on freephone 0333 888 0412  or email brief details of your case to us in complete confidence at [email protected]

Failure to diagnose a stroke