Cruise passenger's dream holiday ruined after being airlifted to hospital 800 miles from home following doctor's misdiagnosis

4 June 2023, 08:55

Stephen Cassidy's dream holiday was ruined
Stephen Cassidy's dream holiday was ruined. Picture: Alamy/RSL

By Kit Heren

A cruise ship passenger's dream holiday with his wife was ruined after a doctor misdiagnosed him with a serious infection, meaning he was airlifted to a hospital 800 miles from their home.

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Stephen Cassidy, 60, felt some leg pain during his luxury cruise trip to Norway, and visited the ship's doctor thinking it was a sciatica flare-up.

The trip, which was a birthday celebration with his wife Carol, was cut short when the doctor diagnosed it as a dangerous hip replacement infection and ordered him to be flown to the nearest hospital in Shetland.

Doctors in Shetland confirmed Mr Cassidy's suspicions that the pain was not serious, diagnosing it as the symptom of a muscle strain.

Mr Cassidy was then left stranded and had to pay to fly back home the length of the country to Poole in Dorset from the northern Scottish island. He was also left with thousands of pounds in medical bills after being treated with antibiotics.

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Sky Princess
Sky Princess. Picture: Alamy

He also missed out on his wife's birthday cruise, for which they had paid £3,598 for a two-week cruise on the Sky Princess to Iceland and Norway.

It was their first trip away together since lockdown, and was a postponed double celebration for their 60th birthdays and 40th wedding anniversary.

Mr Cassidy, who previously had a hip replacement, went to the ship's doctor after a week onboard complaining of a sore leg.

He asked the doctor if it could be sciatica, which he had suffered from before, but the doctor said it could be an infection and had to treat him for that.

The coastguard was called and Mr Cassidy was soon being winched onto a helicopter to be flown to hospital. As well as the flight costs to get home to Poole, Mr Cassidy also faces a £2,400 bill for the intravenous antibiotics he was given.

Mr Cassidy, a music teacher, told The Mail on Sunday: "I didn't feel like I had an infection – I just had a sore leg. The doctor misdiagnosed me and caused so much devastation.

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"It was rotten for my wife and myself to be wrenched apart under those circumstances. It ruined our holiday and cost me a fortune to get home again."

Mr Cassidy added: 'I was never in need of any surgery, I didn't need to see a surgeon and I didn't need scans which the on-board doctor said I did."

Princess Cruises said the allegations were :without merit".

A spokesman for HM Coastguard said: "HM Coastguard carried out a medical evacuation as part of our duty to respond to calls for help at sea."