Lucy was referred by her GP to the ENT Department at Broomfield Hospital in June 2014 and underwent node removal on 30 June 2014. On 07 July 2014 she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and a CT scan on 09 July 2014 revealed Stage IIA disease. A subsequent PET CT scan in fact revealed a further small mass below the diaphragm and the staging was therefore altered to Stage IIIA. Lucy was advised that she would require six cycles of what is known as ABVD chemotherapy, a regimen containing the drugs doxorubicin (adriamycin), bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine.
From the outset of her treatment Lucy was concerned about the use of the drug bleomycin, and in particular its known side effects of lung toxicity. Nevertheless, Lucy commenced her first cycle of chemotherapy on 20 August 2014, receiving a correct dose of 19,400 units of bleomycin. A further correct dose was administered on 03 September 2014 and a third correct dose on 17 September 2014. A fourth correct dose was administered on 01 October 2014 and a fifth correct dose on 15 October 2014.
On 28 October 2014 Lucy underwent a lung function test during which she expressed concerns that the tests felt less comfortable than previous ones. The tests, unknown to her, also revealed a 20% decrease in her lung function compared to the first test that had been undertaken after the first dose of bleomycin had been administered, meaning that there was in fact no base reading to compare it to. Nevertheless, on 29 October 2014 a sixth correct dose was administered, followed by a seventh correct dose on 12 November 2014.
A further lung function test on 24 November 2014 revealed a 33% decrease in lung function compared to the initial test, and again Lucy complained about tightness in her chest during the performance of the test. In spite of these findings, an eighth dose of bleomycin was administered on 26 November 2014. It was this dose, that was incorrectly administered, and instead of a dose of 19,400 units, Lucy was administered with 30,000 units of bleomycin instead.
Lucy started to develop a dry cough, a known side effect of bleomycin, and a potential warning sign for lung toxicity, on 27 November 2014,and consequently persuaded Broomfield Hospital to omit bleomycin from her next dose of chemotherapy which was due on 10 December 2014.
It was in fact on 10 December 2014 that Lucy was informed that she had received an overdose of bleomycin on 26 November 2014, i.e. some 14 days previously. Lung function tests revealed a 40% reduction compared to the initial reading and Lucy was prescribed an initial two week course of steroids to try to minimise the damage caused to her lungs.
Subsequent CT scans revealed damage consistent with bleomycin toxicity and Lucy was required to take steroids until June 2015 in order to help minimise the damage caused. At this point in time the long term implications of the bleomycin overdose are not known but it is clear that Lucy has been left with permanent lung scarring as a result of the treatment she received.
Lucy instructed Mark Bowman to investigate a claim against Broomfield Hospital, having read about his previous cases involving other patients that were overdosed on bleomycin. Following the service of an initial Letter of Claim, liability was admitted by Broomfield Hospital and our offer of settlement accepted.
At the end of the case Mark commented "This was always an extremely strong case. NHS England had in fact reported in April 2015 that Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, which runs Broomfield Hospital, is ranked third worse in the UK, with seven serious patient safety breaches from April 2014 to March 2015. The seven "never events" included the unacceptable overdose of bleomycin given to Lucy. I am glad that we were able to secure a substantial settlement for Lucy prior to the issuing of Court proceedings which would have been lengthy, expensive and entirely unnecessary given the circumstances. There is no excuse for the sort of care that Lucy received and it is only correct that she be compensated for the injuries that she has sustained."
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