April 29, 2012

Compensation for delayed diagnosis awarded after patient’s death

Henry first felt pain in his right thigh in February 1998, so he went to see his GP who ordered X-rays. He was then sent to an orthopaedic surgeon at Yeovil District Hospital and a bone scan was carried out showing an abnormality in the right thigh. Henry was diagnosed as suffering from a non-malignant condition.

A year later Henry returned to his doctor and after further x-rays was again reassured that he had a non-malignant condition. The pain in his right thigh was getting worse though, and Henry returned to his doctor earlier than planned in July 1999. Yet more x-rays were taken, and he was again reassured that he was suffering from a non-malignant condition.

The correct diagnosis was eventually made a month later when Henry fractured his right thigh. Only at this stage it was recognised that the fracture was caused by an aggressive bone tumour. Despite prompt surgery, the delay in diagnosis and treatment of the cancer and the fracture, had allowed the cancer to spread to Henry’s lungs and brain. It cased Henry to become significantly disabled and eventually die in May 2005.

Henry instructed Paul Rumley, a partner at RWK Goodman who is a specialist in cases of missed diagnosis of cancer, while he was still alive. Paul started acting immediately, obtaining expert reports and trying to progress the case as swiftly as it was humanly possible. Sadly, it was impossible to move fast enough as the case was complicated. It was only after Henry’s death that the case was finally settled for £127,500.

Paul comments: “This case demonstrates the vital importance of early diagnosis in cancer cases, because of the risk of it spreading to other parts of the body and becoming incurable. Sometimes of course this is unavoidable, but here the evidence was that the diagnosis could and should have been made earlier, and that the failure to do so caused the spread of the condition which proved fatal.”

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