We investigated a case relating to an elderly woman’s delayed diagnosis of lung cancer, from which sadly she died, on behalf of her husband. She attended Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital with a severe and persistent cough and was given a chest X-ray which was reported as normal. Subsequent consideration of the X-ray demonstrated that it in fact showed an area of abnormality and extra density behind the heart and therefore warranted further investigation. Those treating her thought that our client’s wife had an ENT related problem and referred her to an ENT physician, who was unable to find anything of concern and discharged her from his clinic. Her health continued to decline and she underwent a second chest X-ray two months later. Following this X-ray, lung cancer was diagnosed but it was too late to offer anything other than palliative care.
Our investigations established that firstly it was negligent not to have followed up the X-ray with further investigations, which should have been warranted, and secondly, that had the X-ray been interpreted correctly, our client’s wife was very likely to have undergone surgery to remove the diseased part of her lung. The tumour would at that stage still have remained localised and would have been operable so she would have had a better prognosis. Independent medical reports were obtained from experts in the fields of chest radiology, oncology and thoracic surgery.
A letter of claim was served following a conference with counsel and the experts. We made an early settlement offer on behalf of our client.
Damages were agreed at £70,000 plus costs to reflect our client’s wife’s pain and suffering, the care she was provided by her family, funeral expenses and our client’s loss of dependency. We were pleased that it wasn't necessary to litigate the claim as the NHS Litigation Authority conceded liability at an early stage on behalf of the trust and accepted our client’s settlement offer.