Facts of the case
Our client (aged 5 years old) had a consultation with her GP, who recorded that there was a history of abdominal pain and that there was a strong family history of coeliac disease. Blood tests were arranged.
An electronic copy of the blood results came down the pathology links showing that the anti-TTG was high. The results represented a positive diagnosis for coeliac disease. The result was viewed and filed in the notes by the GP with an annotation against the result ‘to see a doctor-positive for coeliac disease’. However, no action ensued with regards to contacting the patient to advise of the abnormal results.
Our client was not reviewed in the practice again for 9 months when she consulted her GP who noted the very strong family history of coeliac disease and that she had ongoing abdominal pain after eating as well as loose stools. The GP arranged a repeat of the blood tests.
The blood tests again were positive for coeliac disease with a raised anti-TTG and thereafter our client was referred to a paediatric gastroenterologist for their ongoing input.
Our client was assessed by a paediatric gastroenterologist who took a history of 2-3 year period of abdominal pain and loose stools as well as tiredness and nausea.
An Upper GI Endoscopy was performed and the duodenal biopsy was reported as showing subtotal villous atrophy and increased intraepithelial lymphocytes in keeping with a clinical diagnosis of coeliac disease.
A Letter of Claim was sent to the GP alleging that in light of the earlier abnormal test results it was negligent to fail to refer our client to a gastroenterologist for investigation and treatment.
When the appropriate dietary therapy is instituted, the prognosis for coeliac disease is usually good, however untreated morbidity and mortality and the risk of certain malignancies are reported to increase.
We therefore additionally instructed an independent expert gastroenterologist to prepare a report in regards to the potential short and long term impact of the 9-month delay on our client, during which time our client was exposed to gluten. This exposure had an adverse effect upon our client. She suffered symptoms prior to the diagnosis of celiac disease including abdominal pain, loose stools and lethargy.
Following negotiations, a settlement was negotiated with the GP insurers which was thereafter approved by the Court.