UK Cancer Misdiagnosis

Widow Wins Costs in Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Cancer against the NHS

Posted on: April 8th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

A widow has avoided bankruptcy after pursuing a claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS over a nine-year period – from Australia.

In November 2006, Dr David O´Reilly (55) died from metastatic colorectal cancer three years after being diagnosed with the disease. However, two years prior to the diagnosis being made, Dr O´Reilly – who was living in Chichester, Sussex, at the time – had undergone an endoscopy to detect the cause of the symptoms he was experiencing.

The consultant who conducted the endoscopy procedure failed to notice a lesion in David´s colon and, when David sought a second medical opinion, he was misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. Following David´s death, his widow – Sue – made a claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS, claiming that David would have survived much longer had the correct diagnosis been made at an earlier stage.

Sue subsequently moved back to Australia, as she had a severely disabled son – Shane – who suffered from cerebral palsy, and Sue needed the support of her family to care for him. As tort laws in Australia are similar to those in the UK, Sue applied for the claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS to be heard in Australia. The NHS objected but, in 2010, the New South Wales Supreme Court agreed to Sue´s request and hearings began.

Unfortunately, within a year of Sue´s claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS getting underway, Shane died unexpectedly due to complications related to his cerebral palsy. The judge hearing the claim, Mr Justice Peter Garling, heard a motion from the NHS to transfer the case to the UK. He agreed that Sue no longer had the commitment of caring for her son to prevent her from travelling to a location where it would be more cost-effective to hear evidence from witnesses.

Judge Garling was appointed as a temporary examiner by the Royal Court of Justice in order that he could continue hearing evidence in the claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS; and, earlier this year he found the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in breach of its duty of care, and awarded Sue £91,300 compensation for her husband´s premature death.

A parallel claim for emotional distress was dismissed on the basis that David would have lived just a few more years had his condition been correctly identified at the time of the original endoscopy. Of more concern to Sue was a motion brought by the NHS that it should only be liable for 25% of Sue´s legal costs. The NHS argued that Sue´s legal cost were disproportionately high in comparison to the award of compensation, and that they should not be liable for the full amount.

The costs of pursuing the claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS had run into millions in the nine years since David´s death and, if the NHS´ motion was agreed, the amount of debt Sue had accrued would force her into bankruptcy. Fortunately for Sue, Judge Garling dismissed the NHS´ motion and awarded Sue the full amount of her legal costs.

NHS Trust Pays Compensation for Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by Medical Negligence

The West Hertfordshire NHS Trust has been told to pay £70,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer to a patient whose initial test results were overlooked.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman told the NHS Trust to pay the compensation for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer to a patient – identified only as “Mrs G” – whose condition was overlooked when she attended the breast care unit of the St Albans Hospital in May 2010.

Subsequent tests eighteen months later showed that the breast cancer had developed into a terminal condition and an investigation into the error by the Health Ombudsman concluded that – had the breast cancer been detected at the time of her initial referral – Mrs G could have made a full recovery.

The patient – who is forty-one years old and who has a young son – had to give up her job in December 2011 after being told that her breast cancer was inoperable and that she had also developed secondary cancer in her bones, liver and brain.

The Ombudsman´s report insisted that the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust make a “full and sincere apology” to the patient and implement changes to ensure the same errors could not be made again. Julie Mellor – the Health Ombudsman – said “This is a very sad example of what can go wrong when doctors and trusts don’t carry out the necessary and proper diagnoses and tests, and the terrible impact it can have on someone’s life.”

Samantha Jones – The West Hertfordshire NHS Trust´s Chief Executive – commented “We clearly failed Ms G and I have offered her my personal and sincerest apologies.” She added that the NHS Trust had already implemented the changes recommended in the report and had enhanced the training of consultants who deal with cancer-related referrals.

Only last year the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust admitted failing to follow NHS guidelines for monitoring patients referred to them for cancer consultations. Since November 2010, the NHS Trust had failed to organise second appointments for patients who failed to attend their initial consultation – as is required under the NHS guidelines – and discharged them in order to remove patients from their books.

Hospitals Offer Compensation for Errors in Treatment to Twenty-Seven Cancer Patients

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by Medical Negligence

Two NHS hospitals are offering compensation for errors in treatment to twenty-seven cancer patients, whose health was compromised by a consultant urologist who failed to carry out established and recognised cancer treatments.

The Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has made the offer of compensation for errors in treatment to twenty-seven patients who attended the East Surrey Hospital in Redhill and the Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley between 2006 and 2013.

The offer follows an investigation into consultant urologist Paul Millar and more than 1,200 patients he treated while employed by the two hospitals. The investigation was launched after fellow consultants and specialist nurses voiced concerns to hospital authorities.

The investigation concluded that Miller had not “followed the advice of multi-disciplinary teams in carrying out established and recognised cancer treatments” and a review was initiated into the healthcare he had provided to patients suffering from bladder and prostate cancer.

The review found twenty-seven cases in which patients had suffered avoidable side effects or the unnecessary progression of their disease due to the treatments they were given and Millar´s contract of employment was terminated. There is also a high likelihood of the cancer returning for these patients.

All of the patients whose cases were reviewed in the investigation are being sent letters informing them that their medical records were included in the investigation, but those to the twenty-seven affected by Mr Millar´s negligence include a request to get in touch with the NHS Trust “to enable compensation to be considered and paid”.

The Trust´s Medical Director – Des Holden – acknowledged that the letters will be deeply distressing to the twenty-seven patients and their families. He said that the care provided by the consultant urologist was below the hospital´s standards and he apologised to those who had suffered an avoidable injury or the deterioration of their condition.

The Trust´s Chief Executive – Michael Wilson – added “Without a shadow of a doubt we apologise unreservedly for the care these patients experienced”. He added a helpline had been set up for concerned patients and their families (0808 168 7754) and that the telephone lines will be open from Monday to Friday between 11:00am and 7:00pm.

Patients and their families who have questions about how much compensation for errors in treatment they might be entitled to should call our 24-hour medical negligence claims assessment service.

Widow Resolves Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Bowel Cancer

Posted on: June 3rd, 2014 by Medical Negligence

A widow is to receive £50.000 in compensation for the death of her husband after her claim for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer was resolved at a court hearing.

Christopher Goodhead from Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire died in 2009 aged 41, four years after his GP had misdiagnosed his bowel cancer as piles. It was two years later that his condition was correctly diagnosed, by which time the cancer was terminal and nothing could be done to save Christopher´s life.

Christopher´s widow – Melissa Cutting – made a compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer against the GP who had misdiagnosed her husband´s condition – Dr Asim Islam of the Stanstead Surgery in Essex – alleging that a correct diagnosis in 2005 would have enabled Christopher to receive treatment that would have saved his life.

Dr Islam contested the claim, arguing that Christopher would have died “on exactly the same day or not significantly later” had he been referred for specialist treatment on the date of his first consultation. However, Melissa´s legal representatives claimed that Christopher´s exceptional fitness would have given him a good chance of survival had the cancer been identified years earlier.

The claim for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer went to the Royal Courts of Justice, where it was heard by Mrs Justice Patterson. After hearing evidence from medical experts representing both parties, the judge ruled that Dr Islam´s failure to diagnose Christopher correctly had cut short his life, but found that he would have died from the cancer regardless of when it was diagnosed.

Stating that Dr Islam´s sub-standard care had deprived Christopher of four more months of life, Mrs Justice Patterson awarded Melissa £50,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer.

Lung Cancer Diagnosis Error Compensation for Family of Deceased Man

Posted on: April 30th, 2013 by Medical Negligence

A family grieving the death of a man, Frank Golby, have been awarded an undisclosed settlement of lung cancer diagnosis error compensation.

Mr Golby from Whoberley in Coventry had been admitted to Coventry University Hospital in May 2010 for a CT scan after visiting his GP with a cough. The scan, carried out at the hospital, showed a 1cm-wide nodule on his left lung, but doctors failed to recognise the signs of a deadly tumour and Frank was diagnosed with a normal chest infection.

He (Mr Golby) returned to the hospital a number of several times complaining of breathing complications and anaemia, but the 2010 scan was never looked over again. It was only when a chest x-ray on 17th February 2012 revealed that that the tumour growing on his lung had grown to five times its original size that the appropriate diagnosis made. Tragically was too late for Frank – who died the following day at 65 years of age.

His (Frank’s) family sought legal advice from a qualified solicitor and began a claim for medical negligence on the grounds that, had the nodule been correctly diagnosed in 2010 at a stage when the cancer was still at a treatable point, Frank would have lived for at least a further ten years.

After a review of the negligent medical treatment Frank had been given, his wife, son, daughter and two grandchildren were offered an apology by the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and an undisclosed five-figure settlement of lung cancer diagnosis error compensation was agreed between the Trust and solicitors representing Frank´s family.