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Terminal cancer diagnosis leads to six-figure clinical negligence settlement

AuthorsFiona Tinsley

Terminal cancer diagnosis leads to six figure clinical negligence settlement

Our medical negligence team helped a 68-year-old man (‘the Claimant’) to be awarded £380,000 for a terminal oesophageal cancer diagnosis caused by the negligence of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s (‘the Defendant Trust’) failure to monitor Barrett’s Oesophagus Disease, which was diagnosed following a Gastroscopy in October 2014.

 

Background to the case

The Claimant had been under the care of the Defendant Gastroenterology Clinicians from April 2014 for Dyspepsia and underwent gastroscopies in April 2014 and October 2014. The biopsies confirmed Barrett’s Oesophagus and Hiatus Hernia and the plan was to keep him under surveillance and re-scope in two years’ time (October 2016), continuing with Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce the amount of stomach acid. The Defendant failed to properly explain the Claimant’s diagnosis and the rationale behind the need for surveillance every two years.

In October 2019, the Claimant had still not been followed up with, so his GP wrote to the Defendant Endoscopy Unit to arrange an appointment — then three years overdue.

In November 2019, a Gastroscopy showed Barrett’s Oesophagus. Biopsies showed areas of both low-grade and focus high-grade Dysplasia, requiring further investigation and treatment. Multiple lymph nodes were noted.

By 9 March 2020, the Claimant had Endoscopic Mucosal Resection which showed significant nodularity and invasive Adenocarcinoma. A scan showed a middle third oesophageal tumour and multiple lymph nodes. A CT scan showed no abnormality in the sigmoid, which suggested a T3/4 tumour close to the trachea with hilar nodal involvement and local nodes. The cancer was more widespread than initially thought — and incurable. With treatment, realistic life expectancy would be just one to two years. The Claimant outlived this prognosis but sadly passed away in July 2023.

The Claimant underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments between May and August 2020, undergoing eight cycles in total.

 

Legal proceedings and expert evidence

The Claimant sought to bring a claim against the Trust and was represented by Fiona Tinsley. A letter of notification was sent on 11 June 2020.

The Defendant Trust denied failing to provide sufficient information to the Claimant after the 2014 Gastroscopies but admitted failing to arrange follow-ups in 2016 and 2018. In relation to causation, they admitted that — but for the failure to undertake appropriate surveillance — the Claimant would not have developed dysplasia and an oesophageal tumour with lymph node involvement.

Expert medical evidence was obtained from a Consultant in Gastroenterology and Endoscopy as well as a Clinical Oncologist in relation to causation, condition and prognosis to support the Claimant’s case.

With appropriate management and care, the Claimant would have avoided a terminal diagnosis, palliative radiotherapy and chemotherapy, difficulty swallowing, weight loss and the psychological consequences of a terminal cancer diagnosis.

 

Award for damages

The Trust made an early admission of liability and apologised for the negligence, which assisted the Claimant and enabled him to focus on optimising his treatment going forward. 

This case resulted in an award of £380,000 in total damages (due to past pain, suffering and loss of amenity, as well as future loss). This financial award was secured for the Claimant’s care and assistance, as well as his and his wife’s future financial and service dependency (given his terminal diagnosis).

If you would like advice from our medical negligence experts, arrange a free initial chat with our friendly team.

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