July 18, 2012

Compensation for late diagnosis of cancer and to pay for future treatment

Ms C first consulted her GP in 1988 when she suffered from boils, general weakness and lethargy. The GP did not consider it necessary to refer her to a hospital, and a year later Ms C was back, this time suffering with night sweats and left-sided abdominal pain. Over a three year period, Ms C’s condition deteriorated steadily, with her pain becoming more severe and her losing weight. During this whole period her GP, however, refused to physically examine her even when she pulled up her clothes to show him a lump.

In 1994, Ms C visited a Well Woman clinic where a hard abdominal mass was felt and a scan was recommended. Again, the GP disagreed and only ordered an x-ray. Things finally came a head in 1995 when Ms C’s boyfriend took her to an A&E. She was admitted immediately, and a diagnosis of advanced colorectal cancer was quickly made. Ms C underwent surgery to remove the tumour. The surgery was successful, but the consequences of the delayed diagnosis were devastating: Ms C suffered loss of bowel control and radiation-induced menopause and depression. Even more worryingly, her five-year survival chances were reduced from 65% to 30%.

Ms C instructed our Clinical Negligence team, and partner Gerry Ferguson took on her case. He got the GP to admit the diagnosis should have been made in 1994 at the latest. If the diagnosis had been made then, Ms C would not have required additional intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy which was now necessary because of the delay.

Ms C received £96,000 to cover her unnecessary pain and suffering and the cost of future treatment and adjustments she had to make to her life. The settlement expressly left out of account any claims that her widower and any young children might make in the event of her early death.

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