Compensation for misreported smear test that contributed to delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer

Case Studies

Compensation for misreported smear test that contributed to delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer

We have secured settlement for our client, whose cervical smear was misreported in 2013 and who then went on to develop cervical cancer in 2015.

Further, it was alleged that there was a delay in diagnosis between October 2015 and July 2016, when she was eventually diagnosed. Our client suffered infertility as a result of a full hysterectomy, damage to her bladder, fatigue and psychiatric injury.

She attended her routine cervical smear in 2013 and was informed that the results were normal. In early 2015, our client started to experience bleeding and pain after intercourse. Her GP referred her to a gynaecologist for review. A colposcopy was undertaken and she was advised that she needed cold coagulation treatment but that there was no malignancy present. Our client’s symptoms deteriorated until July 2016, when she attended her next cervical smear. A lesion was identified and she was referred urgently to hospital, where she was diagnosed with stage IV cervical cancer.

Our client underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy. She also suffered a deep vein thrombosis in her leg following these treatments, which required anticoagulation therapy.

The radiotherapy caused irreversible damage to our client’s reproductive system such that she is now infertile. Damage was also caused to her bladder. In addition, our client experienced severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder as a result of the chemotherapy.

She was unable to return to her full time role and remains on restricted duties due to her bladder issues and psychiatric injuries.

Our specialist gynaecology and maternal injury group argued that had her cancer been diagnosed at any time between 2013 and 2015, she would have avoided the need for radiotherapy and chemotherapy and therefore would not have been affected by the associated sequelae. Her fertility would also have been preserved.

Whilst the NHS trust admitted that our client should have been diagnosed in October 2015 and would in this scenario have avoided chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it denied that the 2013 smear was misreported.

Court proceedings were issued and served on the defendant. A joint settlement meeting was successful in securing our client a significant award of damages.

Emily Reville, senior associate in the clinical negligence team in our Cambridge office, commented: “This case highlights the importance of reporting symptoms to medical practitioners and for women of regularly attending their cervical smear tests. Having got to know the claimant over the past few years, I am delighted that such a fantastic result was achieved for her and I am pleased that she can finally put this terrible episode of her life behind her and try to move forward.”

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP