Delayed diagnosis of breast cancer of 2 years. Case settles following Mediation

28 September 2022

Defendant Trust to implement changes to avoid delayed diagnosis, following a mediation meeting.

Andrea Rusbridge comments:

The Claimant was an amazing lady, and I was privileged to get to know her and her husband. Sadly, her death has deprived her of her future and her family and friends of a wonderful person. As with all these cases it is all the more poignant knowing her death could and should have been prevented.

In late 2013, the claimant first noticed a lump on her left breast. The following day she attended her GP who examined her and noted there was a lump and returned after 2 weeks as the lump remained. She was referred to the defendant Hospital for further investigations. In November 2013 she was examined and sent for an ultrasound scan. She was advised that her milk ducts were filled with fluid, but the claimant has never been pregnant. She was advised to await the ultrasound results and in due course a letter was sent advising that the scan was satisfactory.

In January 2014, she noticed that droplets of blood would occasionally form on her shirt and therefore returned to her GP who advised it was only an infection. The GP prescribed antibiotics.

However, the problem did not resolve and was prescribed a second dose of antibiotics but when the second course was finished, she learnt to live with the problem as she believed it was a minor infection.

In July 2015, the claimant noticed the lump on her breast was now larger. Her husband noticed that she had a dry cough at night, and she was inadvertently losing weight. She returned to the GP and was referred to undergo further investigations. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The claimant underwent a lumpectomy followed by a wide excision and 2 out of 3 lymph nodes were found to be positive.

The claimant was not properly advised about the benefits of radiotherapy and therefore she refused treatment, based on the advice she was given.

In late 2017, there was a recurrence of her cancer and she was advised to undergo a mastectomy with post-operative chemotherapy and radiology. She agreed to the mastectomy and radiotherapy, but she declined chemotherapy. She was advised the treatment was successful.

In March 2018, the claimant was diagnosed with C5 and T8 spinal fractures and metastases secondary to her previous breast cancer. She was discharged in November 2018 and was cared for by her husband at home.

She sadly passed away in December 2019. Her husband took over the claim.

The defendants admitted that the diagnosis should have been made in 2013 and had a timely diagnosis been made, she would have avoided additional surgery and injury. However, the defendants denied that her death was caused by their delay.

The claim was pursued, and further evidence obtained to establish the delay had caused her death.

A Dependency Claim

A dependency claim refers to a claim that is made by a member of the deceased’s family following the claimants death. The individual who brings the claim, on behalf of the deceased and who was their former married partner/civil partner or cohabited together for a period of 2 years, are entitled to a fixed sum of £15,120 when death occurs because of negligence and is intended to represent feelings of bereavement.

This no way reflects the pain and suffering of a lost loved one, but this is the current standard figure which has been set by the government.

In March 2022, the claim successfully settled following a mediation meeting. Our client had the opportunity to speak with the defendants head of patient learning and safety (PALS) team, with no lawyers present; it was an opportunity for our client to speak with PALS and discuss what changes they will implement within the Trust to avoid the same circumstances of delayed diagnosis affecting others in the future.

Our client also received a formal apology from the Trust and received a follow up of the changes they have implemented within the Trust following the mediation. It was the first time within the legal process that our client felt heard and felt that the Trust acknowledged their failures.

Our client has expressed that the compensation will be used to continue the Claimant’s legacy.

Quote from our client:

Shoosmiths Solicitors came into our lives at a very difficult time, from first introduction the team led by Andrea Rusbridge showed compassion, patience, and due diligence. They played a vital role in making my wife's last years as painless as possible, firstly assuring the defendant accepted clinical negligence quite early in the case and secondly acquiring an interim payment which took away what would have been an added factor of financial hardship. Shoosmiths played an integral part in the healing process throughout the case by simply being on our side.



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

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