£95k for Man Whose Mother Died after Missed Signs of Cancer on an X-ray

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Georgina Emsley

Solicitor, Medical Negligence

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We will refer to our client throughout this article as Ms H for the purposes of anonymity and client confidentiality. As Ms H’s husband had also passed away, her son, who we will refer to as Mark to maintain his privacy, was entitled to compensation for the medical negligence that his mother had experienced.

Ms H was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 and both she and her son Mark were devastated to hear that the NHS had missed indicative signs of this on an earlier x-ray. Sadly Ms H passed away, but if the indicative signs had been identified earlier, she could have had surgery and lived for longer. Mark was able to make a Medical Negligence claim with our help to get justice for his late mother.

Ms H had suffered with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) for many years. COPD is the name for a collection of lung diseases which gradually gets worse and can cause chronic coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. It includes emphysema which is damage to the air sacs in the lungs and chronic bronchitis, a long-term inflammation of the airways.

COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle aged or older adults who smoke. Many people don’t realise that they have it. The breathing problems associated with COPD tend to get worse over time and can limit the day-to-day activities that a person is able to do independently.

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of COPD are:

  • Shortness of breath, particularly when you’re active
  • A persistent chesty cough with phlegm
  • Frequent chest infections
  • Persistent wheezing

Ms H took medication and used an inhaler to relieve her symptoms. However, in 2019 she noticed that her symptoms were getting worse.

She decided to seek advice from her GP who prescribed her with antibiotics, steroids and another inhaler. Unfortunately, this did not relieve her symptoms. As such, an x-ray was arranged for her in late 2019. She was informed afterwards that the results of the x-ray were normal.

However, her symptoms persisted and became much more severe during 2020. She was in contact with her GP and COPD nurses in relation to her symptoms during this time. Further antibiotics and steroids were prescribed to her which did not improve her condition, so another x-ray was arranged in January 2021.

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Ms H’s Late Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

The X-Ray demonstrated a lesion, which is a region in an organ such as the lungs, that has suffered damage or abnormal change because of disease.

After a further scan, she was sadly diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors told Ms H that the lesion was visible on her x-ray from two years prior and that an investigation would be undertaken in respect of this and how images were misinterpreted, leading to a missed opportunity for earlier diagnosis. 

In Ms H’s case, it was particularly important that she was closely monitored because COPD increases the risk of lung cancer. COPD and lung cancer appear at the same time, rather than separately and the symptoms can be very similar.

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The NHS Admit to Medical Negligence

After the allegations were presented to them, the NHS admitted to and apologised for their breach of duty in failing to interpret Ms H’s x-ray correctly the first time she presented in 2019. If they’d have reported this correctly, they admitted that Ms H would have been sent for a follow-up x-ray and would have got an earlier diagnosis of lung cancer.

If Ms H was diagnosed with cancer earlier, she would have been fitter and as such, more suitable for available treatment options and would have had a better chance of survival. The NHS explained that if they’d diagnosed Ms H earlier, her tumour would have been operable and would have had more than 50% chance of cure.

If Ms H had undergone surgery, she would have likely made a good recovery. Even though she would have had breathing difficulties due to the removal of part of her lung in any event, she would have been able to return to normal activities, live independently and her quality of life would have been more or less the same.

Instead, she had to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy which was extremely disruptive to her life, as well as incredibly painful before her life ended prematurely.

Ms H was able to receive the NHS’s apology, but sadly she passed away during the proceedings.

How Our Lawyers Helped Ms H’s Son Claim For Compensation

Mark got in touch with us and we assessed his situation to determine the likely prospects of success. After accepting instructions for the case, we asked an expert to prepare a report on whether treatment provided to Ms H was negligent, and how the allegedly negligent treatment caused Ms H injury / to be in a worse position than she would otherwise have been in, but for the negligent treatment. The report supported the admissions made by NHS.

The NHS were co-operative in the matter and Ms H’s estate received £95,000 in compensation. To reach this settlement, the NHS reasonably considered the pain and suffering Ms H endured in respect of multiple surgeries and chemotherapy/ radiotherapy which with appropriate care at the right time, would have been unnecessary. Mark was also compensated for his mother’s funeral costs and the care and assistance he provided to his mother at the end of her life.

How we Can Help If You or a Loved One Has Been Through Medical Negligence

If you or your loved one received care that fell short of a reasonable standard i.e. received a late diagnosis of cancer, you might be able to make a claim for compensation. Our Medical Negligence Lawyers are specialists in helping people who have been through this. It can be confusing to know who is at fault and what your rights are, but we pride ourselves on our ability to keep things straightforward and simplify the process to take the stress away for you.

We know that every situation is different, so we encourage you to get in touch today.

Our helpful and approachable team can be contacted by telephone on 0808 239 6043. Alternatively, you can request a call back.


(n.d.). Lung Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-cancer/ (Accessed: 18/12/2023).

(n.d.). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/ (Accessed: 18/12/2023).

Georgina Emsley

Solicitor, Medical Negligence

Areas of Expertise:
Medical Negligence

Georgina is a Solicitor who works in our Medical Negligence team here at Simpson Millar, based in our Manchester office.

She is a committed and highly reliable Solicitor with a track record of supporting clients through the process of making a claim to achieve the best outcome for them. Georgina has experience working on many high-value cases with a range of circumstances and complexities from start to finish, where she reviews medical records, liaises with experts and gathers evidence in order to negotiate the best possible settlement for her clients.

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