In 2003 Joan found a lump in her breast. She was immediately referred to St Mary's Hospital in London for tests. A mammogram showed a suspicious area in the breast.
A few months later Joan underwent a core biopsy. She was wrongly reassured that all was well and that the changes were benign, when in fact they were malignant.
In 2006 Joan began to notice further abnormalities in her breast. She again attended her GP who gave her an immediate referral to St Mary's Hospital. On this occasion the core biopsy showed ductal carcinoma in situ ("DCIS") with areas of invasive cancer. Joan was told she would need to have a mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy.
During the mastectomy operation, an important nerve was severed, causing permanent damage. Joan also had to be rushed back in to hospital 4 days later for emergency surgery for a haematoma which developed. She was treated with chemotherapy and Tamoxifen, as a result of which she went into early menopause and suffered from hot flushes and pins and needles.
The long term tamoxifen treatment was alleged to have caused cataracts to develop. The delay in diagnosis reduced Joan's chances of survival. Joan underwent reconstructive surgery which was also sub optimal and left her with marked asymmetry in breast size and position. She suffered psychologically as a result of the negligence.
Sam Critchley investigated the claim for Joan and started proceedings in the High Court. Whilst it was admitted that the Breast Clinic team at St Mary's Hospital had negligently delayed diagnosis until 2006 it was the Defendant's position that Joan would have required exactly the same treatment and surgery that she had, except for the chemotherapy and node clearance.
The case settled for a six-figure sum, six months before trial. The award included compensation for Joan's pain and suffering (physical and emotional) and a significant sum for loss of earnings and therapy expenses. We acted for Joan on a no win, no fee basis.
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Fixed costs: The end of patient justice
A letter from the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the charity for patient safety and justice, published in the Telegraph this week, asked the Health Secretary to reconsider proposals concerning fixed costs in clinical negligence claims.
The Sun reports on Keith Barrett's case of Richard Giles, who died after being electrocuted when his lorry hit 11,000 volt cables
Arti Shah comments in the Evening Standard about her client's case in which their husband died of a heart attack after being told to take Gaviscon