Family presses for inquest after doctors repeatedly missed cervical cancer


A mother of 4 who died of cervical cancer was misdiagnosed "30 times" by physicians at Sandwell and Birmingham City hospitals.

Misdiagnosis Compensation

The family of Jeannine Harvey, 33, who was advised that her tumour was merely nerve pain and a torn ligament, has called for an inquest into her death, claiming the 2 hospitals provided 30 incorrect diagnoses.

Ms Harvey, from Rowley Regis, died from cervical cancer in July, leaving her children Paul, 16, Jack, 12, 5 year-old Frankie and 2-year-old Ella.

The family said that because pre-cancerous cells were removed from Ms Harvey's cervix in 2010, a routine scan was performed when she saw her GP in January 2012 complaining of pain.

The scan revealed a 2in lump in Ms Harvey's pelvis. However, surgeons at Birmingham City Hospital found no sign of it during the subsequent operation. When the patient awoke she was told that she did not have cancer.

According Ms Harvey's sister, Marie Donovan, doctors said the mass had gone and that it must have been a cyst.

"They had checked the pelvis and the ovaries and it was all clear," said Ms Donovan. "Although we were happy with the verdict that she didn't have cancer at the time, we were still devastated because she was still screaming in pain."

The family said that after doctors pronounced the pain as due to nerve and back problems, Ms Harvey was referred back to her GP for physiotherapy. Falling frequently over the next week, she was taken to Sandwell A&E, where medics said she might have suffered a torn ligament.

Ms Donovan said her sister's condition was highly distressing. "It was like a horror movie. She kept crying to me saying it was like someone was stamping on her between her legs."

"She used to spend most of the nights in the bath because it would slightly ease the pain. The children had to sleep out of the house some nights to give them a break from Jeannine's screaming."

In April Ms Harvey's GP referred her to the Medical Assessment Unit at Birmingham City Hospital, of where Ms Donovan said: "The staff nurse could see almost immediately that it was cancer."

Finally diagnosed with cervical cancer and sarcoma, Ms Harvey died 3 months later.

The family has pledged to determine why so many chances were missed to properly diagnose Ms Harvey's condition and treat it in time. To this end, Ms Donovan said legal action was being considered against the 2 hospitals.

In a statement, the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust acknowledged the need for answers. "This is what our internal investigation process is about, examining what lessons there are to be learnt and making changes if necessary."

According to a spokesperson, Ms Harvey's family will be notified of the findings of the internal investigation into the missed cervical cancer.

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