Artist wins legal battle after GP failed to spot meningitis

Daily Echo: Julie Coakley Julie Coakley

A HAMPSHIRE artist struck blind after a GP negligently failed to diagnose meningitis has won her legal battle for compensation.

The High Court upheld Julie Coakley’s claim for negligence against a family doctor who failed to spot telltale signs of the bug.

The amount of damages has been agreed but not revealed. Her claim had earlier been valued at over £1m.

The court heard that Mrs Coakley, 48, visited the Gratton Surgery in Sutton Scotney, near Winchester, in January 2008 with classic signs of meningitis.

But Dr Henrietta Rosie diagnosed a respiratory tract infection and prescribed bed rest and plenty of fluids.

Yesterday Judge Stephen Oliver-Jones QC said: “Dr Rosie failed to observe and examine the rashes thoroughly or more than superficially... She failed to examine Mrs Coakley properly and, in particular, failed to examine her neck for stiffness and to heed her query about meningitis.

“Dr Rosie failed to suspect, diagnose or exclude, and consequently failed to treat Mrs Coakley for, bacterial meningitis when she should have done and when a reasonably competent GP would have done so.”

He concluded: “These findings lead to the regrettable but inevitable conclusion that Dr Rosie was negligent... and thus in breach of the duty of care she owed to Mrs Coakley as her patient.”

Mrs Coakley, of South Wonston, was on the verge of establishing herself as a glass designer when she was struck down by bacterial meningitis in January 2008.

Within hours of Dr Rosie sending her home untreated, she collapsed and spent several days in a coma. Family members at her hospital bedside were warned to expect the worst.

Mrs Coakley, who was in her final year of a three-dimensional design course at the University of Creative Arts, finally came round, but was left totally blind and partially deaf. She was also stricken by balance problems and facial palsy.

She gained a first class degree and works as an artist.

Dr Rosie, in a statement, said: “I am glad that the case has now reached a conclusion, and wish Mrs Coakley and her family the best for the future.”

Dr Rosie left the Gratton Surgery several years ago. She joined in 1985 and from 1991 was a part-time partner.

Comments (5)

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6:07am Tue 10 Jun 14

townieboy says...

Hope this sends out a warning to all GP,s. Most just give you your 10min app without listening to you and treating the symptoms.
Hope this sends out a warning to all GP,s. Most just give you your 10min app without listening to you and treating the symptoms. townieboy
  • Score: 4

7:33am Tue 10 Jun 14

skeptik says...

Whilst we all go through life making mistakes sometimes we ask ourselves how did I miss that or how did I do that, we are at risk of expecting others to be perfect in all decisions - and that just cannot be.
Whilst we all go through life making mistakes sometimes we ask ourselves how did I miss that or how did I do that, we are at risk of expecting others to be perfect in all decisions - and that just cannot be. skeptik
  • Score: 8

9:19am Tue 10 Jun 14

excusemoi says...

How awful for the artist Julie. I'm very happy with my GP she is very thorough and takes time to talk and cares about her patients. This case is so sad as most doctor's would recognise the signs of this terrible meningitis.
How awful for the artist Julie. I'm very happy with my GP she is very thorough and takes time to talk and cares about her patients. This case is so sad as most doctor's would recognise the signs of this terrible meningitis. excusemoi
  • Score: -2

4:48pm Tue 10 Jun 14

sparkster says...

There is no excuse whatsoever for this, I agree nobody is perfect but GP's have about 5 or years more training so you would expect them to know the symptoms of meningitis surely. Im lucky my GP actually listens to me and looks at me when im talking instead of dismissively looking at thecomputer screen to print out a prescription
There is no excuse whatsoever for this, I agree nobody is perfect but GP's have about 5 or years more training so you would expect them to know the symptoms of meningitis surely. Im lucky my GP actually listens to me and looks at me when im talking instead of dismissively looking at thecomputer screen to print out a prescription sparkster
  • Score: 0

5:19pm Tue 10 Jun 14

forest hump says...

I really feel for Medical staff. They only get bad press and are rarely mentioned otherwise. Combine that with our now contagious litigious society they are on a hiding to nothing. G.P's would have significantly more time to consult if it were not for the whining time wasters and sickie spongers. Put a charge on a G.P. visit and the time wasters will go away.
I really feel for Medical staff. They only get bad press and are rarely mentioned otherwise. Combine that with our now contagious litigious society they are on a hiding to nothing. G.P's would have significantly more time to consult if it were not for the whining time wasters and sickie spongers. Put a charge on a G.P. visit and the time wasters will go away. forest hump
  • Score: 3

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