Misdiagnosed eye problem led to suffering

Jared McGiven is a teenager who has been to hell and back after losing the sight in his right eye due to the negligence of an optometrist.

Twelve operations over three years and finally the insertion of an artificial eye has been followed by pain - a constant reminder of the tragedy.

But the Whangarei 19-year-old, with a steely determination and positive approach to life, has been delivered a great Christmas present.

Jared, supported by his mother Sue and ACC adviser Jeannette Brock, have battled to have ACC pay for injury treatment relating to his eye for the last two and a half years.


Thankfully the family had private health insurance that paid for the surgeries, some of which cost up to $15,000, but just this month ACC accepted the claim to help with future treatments and associated costs - but it hasn't been an easy fight.

"I wanted to deal with my loss but there was always the ACC battle going on in the background. This gives me closure and finally someone has owned up and will help me in the future," Jared said.

With out a doubt there have been tough times for the McGiven family, but Jared urged anyone trying to make an ACC claim to not give up.

Jared had to repeat half of Year 13 because he had missed so much schooling due to surgery. He couldn't be at his leavers' school dinner - more surgery.

But this year he graduated from an art and design course in Auckland and has been accepted to begin a Bachelor of Teaching in Whangarei next year - with the goal of becoming a primary school teacher. Jared reckons he can now make a huge step forward, but he and his mum are under no illusion there will always be new challenges when dealing with ACC.

"Without Mum and Jeanette I wouldn't have been able to do it. Get help because you can't do this alone and never give up. It will be worth it in the end."

The tragic chain of events began three years ago.

Jared first visited the optometrist on December 9, 2010 when he was 16, but the healthcare professional did not know what the abnormality was and did not record the condition, a retinal detachment, as a diagnosis in his clinical notes.

Jared attended a second appointment a week later when more photographs of his eye were taken.

He was advised to return in three months for more photos.

It was not until February 7, 2011, or about eight weeks after the first consultation, that the optometrist faxed a referral letter to Whangarei ophthalmologist Brian Kent-Smith.

The referral letter made no mention of the first consultation on December 9 nor were photos taken that day provided to Dr Kent-Smith, who promptly diagnosed a right retinal detachment and arranged for surgery.

Desmond John White was suspended by the New Zealand Health and Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal from practicing for six months and ordered that he not be a sole practitioner for three years after resuming work.

However ACC initially declined to help Jared.

Mrs McGiven was forced to seek another expert's opinion and present it to ACC.

That review hearing was in March this year and only after complaints made by her and Mrs Brock about the delay did ACC finally release a fresh decision saying they would now help.

Mrs McGiven said it had been an insane battle.

"You shouldn't have to go to these lengths when it isn't your fault to begin with."

ACC adviser Jeannette Brock said it was fantastic Jared had the courage to talk publicly about his case and show all the effort was worth it in the end.

"Finally we have a good result.

"We have gone to great lengths to prove this case when we shouldn't have had to."