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Case Study

Compensation for family of man who died after several years delay in prostate cancer diagnosis

Following a check-up, James'* GP arranged blood tests including a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. An elevated PSA level is an early indicator of prostate cancer. The test results were abnormal and follow-up was recommended.

James was reassured by his GP surgery that if there were any problems, a doctor would call him back. They did not. James did not attend his GP practice for another 3.5 years. He went back to see his GP complaining of dysuria (pain or discomfort during urination), highlighting that the abnormal blood test results had never been acted upon. 

James was referred to an urologist and the diagnosis of prostate cancer was confirmed. It measured approximately 7 x 6 x 5 cm in size. There was extensive malignant disease extending to the rectal wall and the bladder. Satellite lesions were noted in the ribs and pelvis. James was commenced on Zoladex (hormone therapy) and then on Casodex (an androgen blockade). He began radiotherapy and was able to enjoy running his businesses again and playing golf. 

Despite all treatment, the disease could not be contained and James died leaving behind a wife and adult daughter. He commenced the litigation during his lifetime because he did not want his wife to have the burden of litigation. James instructed Sam Critchley to pursue a delayed prostate cancer diagnosis claim. She secured an early admission from the GP indemnifier on breach of duty. It was admitted there was a negligent failure to act on the abnormal result but the consequence of this was denied. 

Quantification of the claim was very complex due to the several and diverse businesses James ran. We instructed a forensic accountant to help quantify the loss of income. Due to the diagnosis and subsequent radical and exhausting treatment, as well as the psychological sequelae, James lost the energy to run his business interests. Given his poor prognosis, he decided not to spend his remaining time doing so. His businesses foundered and he (and his family) lost income. 

The defendant made a very low settlement in the sum of £30,000. This was rejected. They doubled their offer to £60,000. This too was rejected. Just three week before trial, settlement was agreed in the sum of £437,500 plus legal costs. 

James knew of his impending death and while he did not survive to know the final outcome he was comforted by knowing that the damages would be significant and would help to ensure his wife was financially secure. 

Sam said:

"It was a privilege to act for James. He faced what was to come with stoicism, dignity and good humour. There was also sadness. He was one of life's bon viveurs and would light up any room. He was thrilled to have seen the birth of his first grandchild before he died and to have spent time with her. It is tragic that all that needed to happen was for James to have been told of his test result and a simple letter of referral sent. This would have saved his life."

* name change

Contact us

For further information about delayed diagnosis claims and prostate cancer misdiagnosis claims, please call Samantha Critchley on 03304606812 or email samantha.critchley@fieldfisher.com.

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