Mark Bowman represented the family of Gary Foster, a 27 year old cancer patient, at the inquest into his death. Gary, a graphic designer from Waltham Abbey in Essex, died after taking part in a government funded medical trial. He was suffering from testicular cancer and in the course of his treatment was, on seven occasions, given double the amount of chemotherapy he should have been prescribed.
The Coroner’s report found that Gary died as a result of lung damage caused by bleomycin toxicity and also as a result of the overdose of the bleomycin.
Gary was treated in University College London Hospitals NHS Trust (UCLH) after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was told that he had a 60% chance of survival and was offered a place on the medical trial which doctors told him would increase this. Gary and his family agreed to this believing his chances of survival would be greater and that he would receive a better level of care.
The trial, called TE23, was testing whether a combination of five existing chemotherapy drugs was better at treating testicular cancer than the standard treatment of three drugs. From June until mid-September 2007 he made regular trips to UCLH in central London, to receive the drugs. On seven occasions between July and September last year, he received 30,000 units of one of the drugs, bleomycin, instead of 15,000.
Gary eventually developed a dry cough, a symptom of lung damage, caused by bleomycin. The inquest heard that the cough should have been recognised by doctors and nurses as a warning sign that the bleomycin was damaging his lungs, however, despite the cough, he was given a final incorrect dose of bleomycin. Eventually he became so ill that he was transferred to intensive care. He died on 14th October 2007.
The Coroner’s report concluded that Gary died as a result of an accidental adverse healthcare event, caused by a prescribing error to which the set up of an electronic prescribing system contributed.
Mark Bowman represented Gary Foster’s family at the inquest. He is also representing the family in a medical negligence claim against UCLH. UCLH has been served with a letter of claim and a letter of response is awaited. The claim has been passed by UCLH to the NHS Litigation Authority.
Gary’s mother, Colleen Foster said:
"We were told by the hospital not to worry, that testicular cancer was curable and that taking part in this trial would further increase Gary’s chances of survival. Instead, the drugs that were supposed to save his life were killing him. An overdose gives the impression that it was a one-off. It was seven times. Every week my poor Gary was going into hospital, we thought he was getting better but, actually, he was being slowly poisoned and poisoned to death."
"This tragic case highlights the potential dangers involved in any form of clinical trial. Such trials need to be set up, regulated, monitored and administered with the utmost scrutiny, to avoid others suffering the fatal consequences that befell Gary Foster."
UCLH has suspended the TE23 trial.
This case received a lot of press and media interest. It was reported on BBC Evening News and ITV's London Tonight on 22 September. You can read about it in The Times, The Telegraph, BBC.
Contact Mark Bowman
For further information or if you believe you have a cancer claim, please contact Mark Bowman our medical negligence team. All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.
Contact us on freephone 0800 358 3848
Or start your claim online.
"The group is praised for its commitment to 'demystifying the legal process' while this is a firm for which the client has always been a priority"
Charities we support
Personal injury team celebrates social hub for amputees and their families
Fieldfisher hosted the first informal central London meeting hub organised for amputees and their families in association with the Limbless Association (LA)
Further criticism of sub-standard care at Basildon Hospital following death of new-born
At the inquest into the death of a baby boy at Basildon Hospital last year, the coroner concluded that serious failings by staff contributed to the baby's death at one day old.
Jane Weakley welcomes CYRIL technology to test new-borns at risk of cerebral palsy
Researchers at University College London (UCL) have developed a non-invasive monitoring system, small enough to take into neonatal intensive care units, which shines infrared light into new-born babies' brains to detect possible brain damage within a few hours of birth.
Claire Horton comments on Countess of Chester hospital nurse arrest
Claire Horton comments on the distressing case of Lucy Letby, the nurse accused of murdering and attempting to murder babies and infants in the neo-natal unit of the Countess of Chester hospital between 2015 and 2016.
Simple scan to identify breech babies supported by partner Jane Weakley and senior midwife Charlene Francois
Proposals for coroners to investigate late-term stillbirths would provide relief to grieving families