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Case Study

Successful settlement following delayed diagnosis of bile duct cancer at Southend Hospital

Mrs Carter presented to her GP complaining of abdominal pain, altered bowel habit and weight loss. Following ultrasound scans, she was referred to Southend Hospital on the two-week suspected cancer pathway. She was seen by a Consultant Gynaecologist who reassured her there was nothing to worry about.

Two weeks later, Mrs Carter returned to her GP complaining of vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and constipation. She then saw her GP two days later, complaining of the same symptoms and also that she had developed jaundice. Her GP told her to go to the Acute Medical Unit at Southend Hospital that day.

Mrs Carter was assessed at the hospital and cholecystitis was diagnosed. A further ultrasound scan was performed and it was decided that further investigations by way of an ERCP (a technique combining the use of endoscopy and fluoroscopy to diagnose problems in the biliary or pancreatic ducts) were required.

The ERCP results were not consistent with a diagnosis of cholecystitis and cancer could not be excluded. Unfortunately, Mrs Carter suffered from pancreatitis shortly after the procedure.  A CT scan shortly after this diagnosis wrongly concluded that the findings were caused by her pancreatitis and not because of her underlying cancer.

Mrs Carter stayed in hospital for two more weeks and was discharged home. Despite reassurances from her doctors, she continued to suffer from abdominal pain, reduced appetite and weight loss. She was told this was due to her gradual recovery from pancreatitis.

Despite this, Mrs Carter's condition got worse. She required further admissions to hospital with severe abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting. Concerns were eventually raised that she may in fact be suffering from biliary duct cancer. She was referred to the Royal London Hospital for further tests which unfortunately confirmed that she had metastatic biliary duct cancer, known as cholangiocarcinoma. Following the diagnosis, she was told that she could not undergo palliative chemotherapy because of her significant weight loss and resulting frailness. She was therefore referred to the palliative care team and was transferred home where she sadly passed away two months later.

Mrs Carter's husband asked Jamie to investigate a claim on his wife's behalf. Jamie instructed a Consultant General and Hepatobiliary Surgeon who criticised the failure to diagnose Mrs Carter with biliary duct cancer following the ERCP. With treatment at this time, she would have been able to undergo a metal wall stone insertion and begin palliative chemotherapy which would have significantly improved her symptom control and would have extended her life by approximately 4-6 weeks.

Jamie calculated the value of the claim, wrote a Letter of Claim to the Trust and made an early settlement offer. The Trust denied liability, but following an early exchange of both sides' expert evidence, Jamie negotiated settlement of £16,500 for Mr Carter.

Following settlement, Mr Carter said:

"I would like to thank you and the team for all the help, support, understanding and kindness over the past two years at a very trying and sad time of my life. You have dealt with every aspect of my case so professionally, keeping me informed both by email and over the phone with how the case was progressing, obtaining a resolution without having to go to court and making a case to the hospital that they did not do all they could have done to help my wife with her suffering, a lot of which was made worse by the hospital giving her the wrong diagnosis."

Contact us

For further information about delayed cancer diagnosis claims and clinical negligence compensation claims, please call Jamie Green on 020 7861 4061 or email jamie.green@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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