Cervical Cancer Awareness Week: A Story of Repeated Medical Failures


For many women, attending a routine cervical screening test (commonly known as a smear) can help to detect and prevent cervical cancer early. Sadly, for one of our clients, failures by medical professionals in reporting these tests meant she went on to develop cervical cancer which could have been avoided.

NHS Hospital

Sarah Holdsworth, Medical Negligence Solicitor at Simpson Millar's Leeds office, tells our client's story:

Repeated Failures Spanning Years

In 2006, our client went for a routine smear test, but the results she received weren't reported correctly. The results were said to have shown mild dyskaryosis (cervical cell abnormalities) when the results had in fact showed severe abnormalities.

From this time onwards, those in charge of our client's care continued to let her down, numerous smear tests were reported incorrectly and the Trust failed follow the NHS Cervical Screening Programme Guidelines on performing Large Loop Excision (LLETZ) to remove affected cells when potential abnormal growth is detected.

The difficulties came to a head in 2013; after years of ongoing symptoms she requested a hysterectomy, hoping that this would solve the problems. Only then was the cancer detected. She underwent a radical hysterectomy, further laparoscopic procedures, and a pelvic lymph node dissection which left her with Lymphedema – a build-up of fluid and swelling.

If the smear test had been correctly reported initially, LLETZ would have taken place after a colposcopy referral, and our client would have had a 95% chance that all abnormal cells would have been fully cured and removed.

Instead, our client went on to develop invasive cancer, enduring numerous surgical treatments and prolonged pain and suffering.

Providing Peace of Mind for the Future

Sarah began the case against the NHS Trust and was able to gain an admission of liability for our client's suffering, securing a favourable out of court settlement of £90,000.

Our client wishes to remain anonymous, but hopes that sharing her experience will raise awareness and let others know how compensation for the negligent treatment will help:

"The offer I received was higher than I expected. The misdiagnosis has obviously affected my life but for certain, the compensation will give me sound financial security for the future."

"These solicitors in my opinion are the best in this country for you to use. I received good access to your nominated solicitor and I have been kept informed and up to date all the way with the way things have proceeded."

"Words cannot express how much I appreciate all your help and kindness in what was a very difficult situation for myself; your easy and friendly manner has made it more tolerable."

Advice for Other Women with Concerns

"If any ladies have a negative smear and still have problems, keep going back."

Our client experienced problems that made sure she persisted in returning to the doctors for further help. Unfortunately for most women, cervical cancer shows few symptoms in its early stages, which is why cervical screening is so important.

For Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, leading charity Jo's Trust is working to get people involved with their #SmearForSmear campaign to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening. Our solicitors have been donning lipstick for the smeared lipstick selfies – take part and share yours on Twitter and Facebook to help spread the word!

Simpson Millar's Medical Negligence team are experienced in offering help and support to those suffering from cancer due to misdiagnosis and failures in care. As shown in this client's case, compensation can make all the difference in ensuring peace of mind and security for the future.

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