Tragic death of a grandmother from Coventry after a delay in diagnosis of cancer

28 April 2016

Cancer Claim - Medical Negligence Case Study
Death following delay diagnosis cancer

Barbara worked in Human Resources at the local authority and was two years from retirement. She and her husband George had planned to travel during retirement and were looking forward to spending their twilight years together.

Barbara started to suffer pain in her left knee and underwent an ultrasound scan at her local hospital.  She was diagnosed with a cyst in her knee. As time went on the pain and swelling in the knee worsened and Barbara returned to hospital and her GP on numerous occasions. She had repeat ultrasound scans and was diagnosed with a burst cyst. Barbara was sent to an orthopaedic doctor who told her that the cyst would resolve with time.

Five months later the pain and swelling had worsened to such an extent that Barbara could no longer work. She became almost completely housebound and had difficulty walking because of her symptoms. She lost weight, felt unwell and spent much of her time resting due to fatigue. She was no longer able to go ballroom dancing or any social events with her husband. Barbara’s pain required increasing doses of strong pain relief and she was feeling very low.

Barbara finally received an appointment to go to the knee clinic but collapsed when she was at the hospital. She underwent various tests and was diagnosed with cancer in the soft tissues in her left knee.

By this stage Barbara’s left leg was so swollen it was twice the size of the right leg. The cancer had also spread to her lungs. The diagnosis came as a complete shock to Barbara and her family. Sadly, the cancer was so far advanced that Barbara could not undergo surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Barbara spent her final days in Myton Hospice where she tragically passed away, just over a month after the cancer had been diagnosed.

Barbara’s bereaved husband, George, instructed Natasha Read, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor at Shoosmiths, who pursued a clinical negligence claim on his behalf.  The medical expert who Natasha instructed confirmed that with an earlier diagnosis, Barbara could have had surgery to remove the cancer along with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She would have avoided all of the pain and suffering she experienced in her last few months. Although sadly Barbara’s cancer would not have been cured, she would have had treatment to alleviate her symptoms. She also would have lived 10 months longer with an earlier diagnosis.

The hospital subsequently admitted that Barbara should have undergone an MRI scan five months prior to her death, and had she done so, the cancer would have been diagnosed at that point.

George then received an apology from the hospital and reassurance that lessons had been learned from Barbara’s case.  He then donated part of the money he received in settlement to Myton hospice for the kindness and care his wife had received in her final illness.



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

Contact our experts

Sorry, there are a few problems with the information you have entered. Please correct these before continuing.


One moment please...

Thank You

Your submission has been received. We'll be in touch soon.

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers