Garda alleges medical negligence led to him becoming blind
A GARDA sergeant has claimed he has been left blind due to a failure to promptly diagnose an infection of the eye linked to wearing contact lenses.
Father-of-two Niall Fitzpatrick (47), from Boher, Co Limerick, has launched a High Court medical-negligence action against both the Health Services Executive and consultant eye specialist Raymond Niland. The defendants have denied the claims.
Mr Fitzpatrick was on the brink of being promoted to head of the garda drugs squad at Limerick's Henry Street station before he contracted the condition in 2005.
Opening the case for Mr Fitzpatrick, Liam Reidy SC, told Justice Mary Irvine that the first symptoms of the garda's condition appeared in June 2005. Just three months later, his client's eyesight had deteriorated dramatically.
Mr Reidy said Mr Fitzpatrick was seen on 11 occasions from when he first met with an ophthalmic registrar after visiting the A&E in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick on June 12, 2005, until he was admitted to hospital on September 8, 2005.
Counsel said that during the three months all those who saw Mr Fitzpatrick failed to take "the most preliminary step towards diagnosing him" by taking a swab of the eye.
He said doctors continued to treat him for a viral keratitis when it later turned out to be the condition acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), a serious corneal infection of the eye, usually affecting people who wear contact lenses.
Mr Reidy said the condition was well recognised by 2005 and was known to result in blindness unless diagnosed and treated early.
He added that if the diagnosis of AK had been given earlier, Mr Fitzpatrick, who had been wearing soft contact lenses, would have made a full recovery.
The court heard that Mr Fitzpatrick now has no useful sight in his eyes and can just make out where windows are in a room.
The case will continue today.