In 2002, Joan, who was then 71 years old, visited her GP on a number of occasions with upper back pain. Her GP carried out some tests which showed abnormal readings, but failed to institute any investigations into the cause. Her condition worsened and further tests were carried out in 2003, again which showed abnormal results. Despite this, the GP still failed to refer her for further assessments.
It was not until Joan lost the function of her left arm and experienced paraesthesia (more commonly known as pins and needles) in her lower limbs that her GP referred her for a “non-urgent” MRI scan. In effect she was put on a waiting list.
In the meantime, Joan continued to deteriorate. She was having falls and her husband was unable to cope with her at home. She referred herself to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone where a junior doctor failed to ask for a senior review or request an urgent MRI.
Four days after admission, Joan was eventually seen by senior staff at the hospital and was transferred to St Bartholomews Hospital in London, where she was finally diagnosed with myeloma. She immediately underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment. She was initially left doubly incontinent and without the use of her legs.
Mark Bowman was instructed on behalf of Joan. The defendants, Joan’s GP and Whipps Cross Hospital, initially denied liability. But before expert medical evidence was due to be exchanged, they both admitted liability and judgment was entered in Joan's favour.
Joan received £400,000 compensation after the claim settled just two weeks before trial. The compensation covers all of the expenses that Joan incurred to date, as well as the recommendations for future care. The case was funded on a “no win no fee” basis.
Joan's daughter Louise said:
"Mark was sensitive to our need to keep an emotional distance from the claim handling. I felt we could be hands off because I was completely confident that instructions were being followed and we were not at risk in costs."
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