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Emma, aged 57, from Grimsby, pursued a Clinical Negligence claim regarding a missed diagnosis by her GP.

In March 2008, Emma was seen by her GP in relation to hair loss, which she had suffered after undergoing bariatric surgery five months previously. She was prescribed a dose of daily zinc sulphate for an initial period of six months, however, the GP that oversaw this prescription left the practice four months later.

Emma’s prescription was subsequently prescribed continuously over the next five years by two different doctors.

Two years after her initial prescription, Emma developed paraesthesia in her hands, and later in her feet. Following neurological investigations for these symptoms, Emma was diagnosed with a copper deficiency in 2012.

Pryers argued that as a result of the long-term use of an excessive dosage of zinc therapy, Emma’s ability to absorb copper was impaired. Furthermore, the delayed diagnosis of copper deficiency resulted in a number of significant and debilitating neurological symptoms including sub-acute degeneration of the spinal cord.

The defendants argued that the computerised GP system failed because the medication was not stopped at 12 months, which is usually triggered by a 12-month computerised default stop. However, our GP expert believed the zinc ought to have been stopped as soon as Emma’s hair started to fall out, which allegedly occurred several months after her initial appointment with the GP.

A number of expert reports were obtained by Pryers, and a trial was listed, however, the claim came to a close after a joint settlement meeting, in which Emma’s claim was settled for £200,000.

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Richard Starkie is a Partner at Pryers Solicitors with a great knowledge of medicine, equipping him to ask insightful questions of experts, as acknowledged by this years @ChambersGuides

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