Paul McNeil recently obtained a six-figure settlement for a 69-year-old mother of four whose cancer was missed by doctors at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.In 2012, Mrs M developed a dry cough and was referred for a chest X-ray by her GP. The X-ray was negligently reported as normal, despite the presence of a 1.5cm mass in her left lung. By 2015, Mrs M's cough had worsened and so her daughter encouraged her to undergo a repeat X-ray. Sadly, by this time the lesion had increased considerably in size and had spread to her sternum, ribs and spine. She was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a cancer that develops in the glands lining the organs.
Understandably, Mrs M was extremely upset, not just by the diagnosis itself but also by the terrible error made in interpreting the previous X-ray. During the three years after the initial diagnosis, she had gone on with her life, reassured that her cough was nothing to worry about.
Since her diagnosis of adenocarcinoma, Mrs M has received extensive treatment including medication, radiotherapy and CyberKnife radiation therapy. The treatment has been necessarily aggressive and resulted in serious side effects, including heart failure. Her cancer is now incurable.
Chelsea & Westminster Hospital carried out an internal investigation into the care provided to Mrs M and concluded that the 2012 X-ray was not properly reported and that the lesion ought to have been identified.
Mrs M relied on this admission in her claim. It was argued that, had the tumour been found in 2012, it would have been possible to remove it surgically before it spread to other parts of her body. Mrs M would therefore not have required the aggressive medication and therapies. She would have gone on to live a healthy life with a normal life expectancy.
The Trust reviewed Mrs M's claim and admitted liability prior to the issue of court proceedings. It was admitted that the 2012 X-ray had been negligently interpreted and that Mrs M's prognosis had been worsened as a result.
The parties then proceeded to calculate and negotiate the monetary value of Mrs M's claim. Life expectancy was a key issue which was addressed extensively in expert medical evidence. The Trust argued that Mrs M would not have had a full/normal life expectancy even with earlier treatment.
Mrs M claimed compensation for various past and future expenses arising from the negligence, including travel, care and equipment. A significant claim was also made to recover medical expenses incurred by Mrs M's private health insurance fund.
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