This was a complicated claim on liability against both the deceased’s GP and the hepatology team at his local hospital. The claimants’ case was that the defendants had negligently failed to arrange or conduct a hepatitis C blood test on two separate occasions when the deceased was in his mid-40s. This omission led to a failure to treat him for hepatitis C and to prevent the development of liver cancer from which he subsequently died.
On causation, the claimants argued that, with a timely blood test the deceased would have been diagnosed with hepatitis C and treated for it appropriately and successfully. He would have been cured before his 50th birthday and could have had a normal life expectancy.
However, following the defendants’ negligence, the hepatitis C remained undiagnosed for another 14 to 15 years. Following an eventual referral to hospital, a scan of the deceased’s liver showed a suspicious nodule. By the time of the next scan, the deceased had developed advanced liver cancer and died shortly afterwards at the age of 60.
The claim against the GP related to failures to order hepatitis screening blood tests and to refer him to a hepatologist. The claim against the hospital arose from the failure to act on CT scan results. Claims were brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate, under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, and on behalf of his wife and adult son (a protected party), via the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
A significant amount of expert evidence was required from experts in the fields of general practice, hepatology, radiology and oncology. Quantification of the claim was also complex in that there was a significant and contentious claim for financial dependency on behalf of the deceased’s adult son. Both defendants initially denied liability but the claim settled for £300,000 damages at a joint settlement meeting thus avoiding the need to litigate.
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