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Case Study

Delayed breast cancer diagnosis prevents claimant from caring for dying husband

Lindsay Holt settled a claim for delayed breast cancer diagnosis against a consultant breast radiologist working at private healthcare provider the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in north-west London.

Judith* underwent breast cancer surgery and chemotherapy in 2015 but later discovered that a mammogram in 2013, clearly indicated cancer, had been misreported by the Defendant. As well as failing to identify clear signs of breast cancer, the mammogram should have been double-read and Judith should have been referred for a triple assessment. 

The delay in diagnosis meant that she had to undergo urgent treatment and was unable to care for her husband during the final months of his life as his terminal cancer progressed. Judith had always promised her husband she would look after him since his final stage diagnosis in 2013.

During the final months of her husband's life, Judith was too ill herself following a mastectomy, symmetrisation surgery and chemotherapy to support him. She also suffered the impact of reduced confidence in her appearance because of the surgery and hair loss following chemotherapy. She suffered a prolonged grief disorder because of the timing and circumstances of her treatment.

Had the correct diagnosis been made in 2013, she would avoided a mastectomy and symmetrisation surgery and recovered from treatment within a few months, allowing her to care for her husband. She would have been able to return to work much earlier and avoided her grief disorder.

Judith said that even though her doctor and his team knew they missed the breast cancer, the claim was defended and they put her through the terrible stress of medical examinations and repeatedly threatened delays.  Their experts asked her to attend face-to-face appointments during Covid restrictions, when they knew she had recently undergone cancer treatment.

At the time, Judith said:

"It has all been so intrusive and I feel ripped apart by it. Their tactics of trying to wear me down have added insult to injury and have left me in pieces."

Before issue of proceedings, Lindsay invited the doctor to admit liability and attend a settlement meeting, but this was ignored. The claim was initially defended and liability was only admitted in the face of an application to strike out the Defence.  Despite seeking mediation on behalf of her client and submitting Judith's early offer to settle her claim, Lindsay received no response to the initial offer and the Defendant's team withdrew their agreement to attend mediation. A second offer was rejected and the case only finally resolved nearly two years after the first suggestion of mediation was made.  The claim ultimately settled for a six-figure sum, greater than both of Judith's offers, at mediation. The doctor's legal team made an unreserved apology to her.

Following settlement, Judith said:

"You will know that Lindsay is a cracking solicitor. She is very intelligent and readily knowledgeable. Her thoroughness is impressive. She has a way of thinking outside the box that I think may be uncommon. But she is also kind and considerate – and she knows her clients’ needs and capabilities. I fell very lucky when I found Lindsay. I’m not sure I could have got through this without her. On a personal level, I will always be grateful. I never expected to be in this situation. My intention was to force change. But we won hands down. Thank you Lindsay – and Fieldfisher. A class act."

* name changed

Contact

For further information about delayed breast cancer diagnosis claims, please call Lindsay Holt on 03304606789 or email lindsay.holt@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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