Cancer Misdiagnosis

Patient Compensated for Cancer Misdiagnosis

Posted on: October 2nd, 2016 by Medical Negligence

A woman, whose cancerous mole was misdiagnosed as benign by two doctors, has settled her medical negligence claim though out-of-court negotiations.

The woman, whose name has not been made public, first visited her GP with worries over changes in a mole on her foot. The mole had recently changed appearance and began to itch, though the GP told her that this was nothing to worry about and sent her home.

Still concerned with the mole, the patient then visited another GP in the same practice some weeks later. However, the second GP shared a similar opinion to the first, telling the woman that the mole was nothing to worry about. Neither GP measured the size of the mole, and the woman was never referred to a dermatologist.

Dissatisfied with both of these outcomes, the woman chose to visit a third GP in a different surgery. The GP informed the woman that she was unable to remove the mole, and after her offer of removing the top of it was refused, she referred the patient to a dermatologist in the local hospital.

At the hospital, the dermatologist conducted a biopsy and the section was sent for testing. Regrettably, the results indicated that the mole was cancerous. The patient then underwent emergency surgery to remove the rest of the mole, but the cancer had already metastasised. The patient is now being treated for secondary cancer.

The patient sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the first GP she consulted and their practice. The claim alleged that, if the correct diagnosis had been made sooner, she may currently have a better prognosis.

Though both the GP and the surgery denied that they were negligent and disputed the claim for compensation, once they were threatened with legal action, their insurance company decided to settle. The woman has since received a six-figure settlement of compensation for her suffering.

Claims for Compensation against Nurse Practitioners See Significant Increase

Posted on: March 10th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

Claims for compensation against nurse practitioners have seen a significant increase over the past decade according to the Medical Defence Union.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is an organization that provides clinical indemnity and legal support for members of the medical profession. According to a recent report, just two claims for compensation against nurse practitioners were made against its members in 2005. Ten years later, and the MDU reports that number has risen to twenty-five.

The figures released by the MDU mirror those revealed by the Medical Protection Society in 2012. Both reports attribute the increase in claims for compensation against nurse practitioners to more emphasis being given to primary nursing care, the role of nurse practitioners being expanded and a greater awareness of patients´ rights.

An analysis of the figures released by the MDU and Medical Protection Society both show that the majority of claims for compensation against nurse practitioners are for missed diagnoses and the failure to properly manage chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

While acknowledging that nurse practitioners are seeing patients who would historically have been seen by a GP, both organisations identified three specific areas that had contributed significantly to the rise in claims for compensation against nurse practitioners:

  • A failure to adequately assess a patient´s condition
  • A failure or a delay to refer a patient to a specialist or GP
  • A failure to adequately monitor the progress of a disease or illness

Dr Beverley Ward – the medico-legal advisor at the MDU – expanded on the reasons for there being an increase in claims for compensation against nurse practitioners. Dr Ward said:

“Many practices have devolved more responsibility to nurse practitioners in their team to cope with the increasing demand. However, in taking on roles such as assessing and diagnosing patients, prescribing medicines, and running minor injury clinics, nurse practitioners are also at an increased risk of patients holding them individually accountable if something goes wrong.”

Settlement for Misdiagnosed Stomach Cancer Death Approved in Court Hearing

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 by Medical Negligence

A court has approved a six-figure settlement for the family of a young woman who tragically died following the misdiagnosis of stomach cancer by a consultant.

Sharon McEneaney, from Carrickmacross in Co. Monaghan, went to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda in October 2007 with severe pains in her abdomen. The consultant that she attended, Dr Etop Samson Akpan, did not consider that her pain could be caused by a tumor, and it was only in June 2008 that a biopsy was conducted on Ms McEneaney. This revealed that she had stomach cancer, but by that stage the cancer was so advanced that it could not be treated. Ms McEneaney died just ten months later.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into Ms McEneaney’s death, which resulted in no fewer than thirty-eight recommendations being made to help prevent another misdiagnosis of stomach cancer occurring at the hospital. The Medical Council of Ireland’s Fitness to Practise Committee had a hearing in January 2012 following the results of the investigation, and found that Dr Akpan was guilty of poor professional performance.

Ms McEneaney’s family made a claim for compensation against the hospital. The case was heard in Dublin’s High Court by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who was informed that negotiations had lead to a settlement of €62,500 being agreed upon between the two parties. The settlement was divided between Ms McEneaney’s mother, June, and her four surviving siblings after €10,000 had been set aside for funeral expenses.

Margaret Swords, the General Manager of the Louth and Meath Hospital Group, read an apology to Ms McEneaney’s family at the hearing. She admitted that Out Lady of Lourdes Hospital had failed in their duty of care towards their daughter, and that progress was being made at the hospital to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

Judge Irvine approved the agreed sum for the compensation settlement, and noted that Ms McEneaney’s family had shown “courage and tenacity” throughout the ordeal. She also told them that they had “”shown marvelous fortitude in the face of such a loss”.