Lessons learnt following delayed diagnosis of recurring throat cancer at the Royal Marsden | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Lessons learnt following delayed diagnosis of recurring throat cancer at the Royal Marsden

Samantha Critchley and Suzanne Farg secured a six-figure settlement for the family of a much-loved husband and father who died aged 54 following a delay of more than three years in diagnosing a recurrence of squamous cell carcinoma by the Royal Marsden Hospital.

The deceased had been successfully treated for tonsil cancer in 2008 and had a very good prognosis. He then had regular follow-up appointments at the hospital. Five years after being treated, however, he found a lump in his neck and reported this to the doctor at his next appointment.  

The lump worsened into a wider area of abnormality and at his next follow-up appointment six months later, a biopsy was performed. Two biopsy reports were produced but only one was reviewed by the treating doctor. The other report showed that the cancer had recurred but was not viewed on the hospital's electronic system and the cancer recurrence was not identified.

His GP referred him back to the hospital where an MRI scan showed a tumour in his right neck and he was finally diagnosed with recurrence of his cancer. 

He underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy but, by this time, the cancer recurrence had become too widespread and, sadly, he died the following year. His loss was a devastating blow for his wife and children made worse by the belief that it could have been avoided with appropriate medical care.

We were instructed by the deceased's widow to investigate a medical negligence claim against the hospital, which undertook its own investigation and admitted a failure to recognise the findings of the biopsy and diagnose the cancer recurrence more than three years before the recurrence was eventually diagnosed.   

However, despite this, the hospital argued that the deceased would have died from the recurrent cancer, even if it had been diagnosed three years earlier, because it had already spread at a microscopic level to other parts of the body.  

We carefully investigated the mechanism by which the cancer had spread and obtained expert evidence which strongly contradicted the defendant's argument and showed that the cancer would have been treatable had it been diagnosed at the right time.   

We obtained a substantial settlement for the family. Through this process, his widow was also made aware of changes to the hospital's systems to help prevent a similar situation in future. This provided her some reassurance in the wake of this tragic and avoidable case. 

Contact us

For further information about delayed diagnosis claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Samantha Critchley on 03304606812 or email samantha.critchley@fieldfisher.com or call Suzanne Farg on 03304606819 or email suzanne.farg@fieldfisher.com.


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Delayed Diagnosis Claims