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Case Study

£450,000 settlement for radiotherapy error at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital

Christina Gardiner was instructed to represent Joanne* in a medical negligence claim concerning a radiotherapy error at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital.

Joanne was treated for breast cancer and was later booked for radiotherapy at the Hospital for some affected residual lymph nodes in her right armpit area (axilla).

During her first session, she was placed onto an adjustable bed with her arms in cupped restraints to prevent movement. After a long wait, with her arm positioned above her head, the machinery began to move towards her when part of the equipment trapped and began to crush her left elbow. She called for help, was freed by a technician and the treatment was abandoned.

An X-ray showed that she had suffered soft tissue damage and a fractured ulna. She also discovered that a serious error with the delivery of the radiotherapy had inadvertently irradiated a large part of her right lung and heart. She suffered chest pain, diagnosed as pericarditis arising from the irradiation. She was unable to continue with radiotherapy, and was required to undergo axilla surgery.

As a result of the error, she suffered pericarditis, a permanently injured left elbow, PTSD, and major depression. She now has an increased risk of lymphoedema and also a small risk of other complications which require lifelong monitoring.

The Trust carried out an investigation and produced a Serious Incident Investigation Report. The report found that severe harm had been caused to Joanne due to incorrect set up and delivery of treatment.

Christina invited the Trust to make an early admission of liability in view of the critical findings of the report. The Trust formally admitted that there were failures of care in the treatment planning and delivery of the radiotherapy treatment. It accepted that because of the incorrect set up, Joanne received a dose of radiotherapy to the soft tissues, right ribs and heart tissue and right lung she should not have received.

It was further admitted that the incorrect set up also resulted in a crush injury and a non-displacement fracture to the left ulna and severe bruising to the left arm. The Trust apologised to Joanne for the errors.

Christina arranged a mediation settlement meeting with the Trust and secured a financial settlement of £450,000 for Joanne. The Trust offered a further sincere apology for the serious shortcomings in Joanne's care.

Following settlement Joanne said:

"I must say a massive huge thank you Christina for all of her support and kind words and for everything she has done over the past years resulting in such an amazing result, which I can still hardly believe!
 
I feel truly blessed to have had the privilege of having had her dealing with my case, and also with the contributions made by others at Fieldfisher, and of course the barrister.
 
They were both pretty awesome on the day….what more can I say!"

*name changed

For further information about surgery negligence claims and medical negligence claims, please call Christina Gardiner on 0330 460 6746 or email christina.gardiner@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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