Helen Thompson and Jonathan Zimmern recovered £700,000 damages on behalf of a 46- year-old man, his wife and young son after the man developed metastatic cancer and tragically died following delay in diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer.
In early 2008, Mr G went to his GP after coughing up blood and a feeling of abnormality in his throat. He was referred to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath for further investigation. In April, he underwent a bronchoscopy which showed some minor abnormalities of the upper trachea and larynx, which, at the time, were attributed to acid reflux.
Following the bronchoscopy, the Consultant Respiratory Physician advised Mr G that there was no need for concern about the symptoms and that the blood was probably due to a burst capillary in his throat or nose. The doctor then discharged him. The Respiratory Physician negligently failed to advise Mr G that if he continued to suffer with coughing up blood, this would be a cause for concern and that he should seek further medical advice.
Between 2008 and 2011, Mr G continued to suffer with intermittent episodes of coughing up blood, but because he had been reassured by the Respiratory doctor, that there was no reason for concern, he did not seek further medical advice.
In May 2011, Mr G suddenly completely lost his voice. His GP referred him to an ENT Surgeon for further investigation. A CT scan revealed a large tumour near the thyroid gland and Mr G was diagnosed with advanced papillary thyroid cancer with spinal and lung metastatic tumours. His condition was incurable. Papillary thyroid cancer is a slow growing cancer and had likely been present in 2008.
Mr G underwent surgery to remove the thyroid tumour in late July 2011, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Over the next couple of years he suffered immense pain from the spinal tumours and he underwent surgical treatment and CyberKnife therapy.
Sadly, in late 2016, progression of the spinal tumours left Mr G paraplegic. He received palliative care in a hospice and died in May 2017.
Mr G’s case was that had he been properly investigated in 2008 and/or he had been correctly told to seek further medical advice if he continued to cough up blood, the thyroid cancer would have been diagnosed much earlier, when it would have been treatable and he could have been cured.
Mr G instructed Fieldfisher to investigate the care he had received. Experts in Respiratory Medicine, ENT Surgery and Oncology were instructed to comment on the case and were critical of the care provided. Despite this, the Trust refused to admit liability and defended the claim in full until six days before trial, eventually agreeing to settle for £700,000.
Image credit: Main Entrance to Princess Royal Hospital
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