The Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team has recently settled a claim against Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for a client whose breast cancer should have been diagnosed sooner.
Our client had been experiencing significant and constant pain in her right armpit in which she had a golf-ball sized lump. She visited her GP in July 2012 and was subsequently referred to Kingston Hospital where she underwent a mammogram and an ultrasound scan. She was then reviewed by a consultant breast surgeon who, despite being informed of our client’s extensive family history of breast cancer, told her that the scans were clear and there was nothing to be concerned about.
Our client’s pain continued and she returned to her GP but the results of her scans in July 2012 had never been sent back to her surgery. She then went back to the hospital in October 2012 where she was seen by the same consultant who said that the scans were clear, the lump in her armpit was probably just a fatty lump, and her pain was likely to be hormonal. She was advised to take evening primrose oil for eight weeks.
Our client did as instructed but the pain became so severe such that it severely affected her daily life. In January 2013, our client’s GP sent her for further tests and a scan at a different hospital. These tests indicated something suspicious and, after further investigations, our client was diagnosed with with Grade 3 breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.
Our client made a complaint to Kingston Hospital about the delay in diagnosing her cancer sooner. The hospital reviewed her July 2012 scans and acknowledged there was an edge of dense axillary lymph node which may have prompted further investigation into this area and that an ultrasound scan should have been repeated in October 2012.
After carrying out an independent clinical negligence investigation, it became clear that, although our client reported a lump in her armpit at her appointment in July 2012, the scans carried out were only of her breast and not of her armpit. Our client claimed that her cancer could have been diagnosed six months sooner, had her armpit been scanned as it should have been, saving her months of pain and suffering without a diagnosis and treatment.
The defendant admitted that there was an opportunity to diagnose our client’s cancer three months sooner but continued to deny that there was a negligent six month delay on the basis that the surgeon’s notes did not confirm that our client presented with a lump in July 2012, despite all of the other evidence from the GP records and elsewhere to establish this.
Despite the defendant’s position, a good settlement was negotiated for our client which compensated her for a six month delay in diagnosing her cancer.
Emma Beeson, who handled the case and deals with claims for delayed cancer diagnosis, commented: “While we were very disappointed with the defendant’s continued denial in this claim, we achieved a good settlement for our client and she is very happy that this is now over. But she hopes that her case will encourage Kingston Hospital to ensure that the same thing does not happen to another patient.”
Should you or anyone else have any concerns relating to a delay in diagnosing a serious condition or disease, please call free on 0800 328 9545.