£130,000 Compensation for Delayed Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

Author:
Sarah Holdsworth
Associate Solicitor, Medical Negligence Claims
Date:
14/02/2020

A Medical Negligence Case Study - Client Situation

A woman underwent routine cervical screenings in 2007 and 2012, which both came back with negative results. She later began suffering with vaginal discharges, as well as post-coital and intermenstrual bleeding.

After seeing her GP in February 2014, she was referred to a gynaecologist and was seen at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead a month later. She continued to suffer symptoms including heavy vaginal bleeding over the following months, and her GP became concerned that the appearance of her cervix was “rather unusual”.

She was subsequently seen in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital fertility clinic. Investigations showed no obvious explanation for infertility, and she was referred for IVF treatment. A subsequent scan identified a cervical tumour, and she underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy, with positive results.

However, she believed that significant mistakes had been made with her medical treatment, as signs of her cancerous tumour had been missed on multiple occasions. She decided to approach our Medical Negligence Solicitors for help with claiming compensation from Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

How We Helped

Associate Medical Negligence Solicitor Sarah Holdsworth, who specialises in late diagnosis and misdiagnosis of cancer, agreed to take on the case on a No Win, No Fee basis. Sarah arranged independent medical assessments for our client from a cytopathologist and a gynaecologist.

These medical reports concluded that the smear test specimen taken in 2012 was wrongly reported as negative, when in fact it clearly showed endocervical dyskaryosis. If the test been correctly reported, then this would have prompted an urgent referral for colposcopy.

A repeat smear test would have then probably been recommended for 6 months’ time, which would have led to a biopsy being carried out.

At this time, the cancer would still have been at the pre-invasive stage, which meant it could have been cured with a single procedure. As a result, our client would have avoided developing invasive cervical cancer, and not had to undergo subsequent treatment, including laparoscopic pelvic and para-aortic lymph node dissection with frozen section, chemo radiotherapy and brachytherapy.

She would have also retained her fertility and avoided symptoms of early menopause which have put a significant strain on her life.

Sarah approached Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, which admitted that the smear test taken in 2012 hadn’t been correctly reported. It also accepted that if this mistake hadn’t happened, a biopsy would have been carried out before the end of that year.

Based on similar medical negligence cases, Sarah calculated an amount of compensation that would reflect the varying effects of the negligence on our client’s life. This included:

  • Compensation for the pain and suffering associated with her diagnosis and treatment for invasive cancer
  • Compensation for the long term implications, including her loss of fertility
  • Damages for loss of earnings, travel expenses and care costs

Our client was also assessed by a psychiatrist, who noted that while an initial spell of mild depression eventually improved, she now suffers from generalised anxiety. This means she often feels tense, restless, fatigued, hyper alert and worried about the welfare of her loved ones.

The psychiatrist’s report said this was a direct consequence of the medical negligence she experienced, as she would have dealt with an earlier cancer diagnosis at the pre-invasive stage “with fortitude”. The cost of future treatment, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Applied Relaxation, was therefore also included in our valuation of her claim.

The Outcome

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust agreed to pay our client a total of £130,000 in compensation. And while she has been left unable to conceive a baby, she has successfully adopted two young children since she received the correct diagnosis.

 

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