The case happened after the 64-year-old woman attended the NHS breast screening program for a routine mammogram. She underwent a core biopsy of her right breast which determined that the milk ducts had become cancerous.
She was also advised to have a further biopsy of her left breast because the mammogram results had shown calcification. This found abnormal cells in the glands that make milk.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Shoosmiths is highlighting a case where treatment for breast cancer was not carried out optimally and in fact there was negligence.
Negligent surgery and related care
Following advice from her consultant surgeon on 6 September 2012, our client decided to have a bilateral “goldilocks” mastectomy – where both breasts are removed – and also sentinel node biopsy of her right breast. The procedures took place at the then Mid Staffordshire Hospital six days later.
It was later determined that the left mastectomy was unnecessary as the abnormal cells in the left breast would not have caused our client any harm and surveillance should have been recommended with mammography to detect any cancerous cells. Then, if diagnosed, a small excision of the small area of disease would have been adequate treatment.
As a result of the negligent treatment to her left breast, our client suffers from left arm lymphoedema (swelling). She also requires revisional reconstructive surgery, and treatment for long standing bilateral (on both sides) lymphoedema. In addition, our client also suffers from chronic chest pain and low mood due to the way her body now looks.
Our client sought legal advice and instructed Sharon Banga, a specialist clinical solicitor in the medical negligence team at Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office, to pursue a claim against the two defendant hospitals trusts that assumed responsibility for Mid Staffordshire hospital NHS Foundation Trust which had since dissolved.
This advice was sought sometime after her treatment as it was not until she saw press reports raising concerns about the breast unit at the trust that she questioned whether what she had been let to believe were the usual complications of breast surgery, were actually due to negligent treatment.
In order to achieve a successful outcome, Shoosmiths needed to prove that the consultant surgeon involved had breached the duty of care owed to our client, and that this breach caused our client to undergo unnecessary surgery and be subject to increased risks of wound problems, lymphoedema and chronic pain.
Shoosmiths gathered the client’s relevant medical records and independent expert evidence on the treatment and advice our client received from her surgeon, and the subsequent consequences. This evidence was presented to the defendant trusts involved who were eventually accepted liability on the basis of the evidence presented.
Sharon Banga comments:
“It is so unfortunate our client received substandard advice to her detriment, with life changing and continuing consequence. I am glad we were able to support our client through the process and ensure she received the compensation needed to assist her. It’s a shame the Trust had not been more open with our client earlier about the standard of her treatment but welcome that she did eventually secure an outcome which recognised her ordeal with our assistance.”
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024