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Fatal delay in diagnosis and treatment of Stage 4 ovarian cancer

Fatal delay in diagnosis and treatment of Stage 4 ovarian cancer
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Serious injury partner Andrea Rusbridge comments: “I had the privilege of meeting my client and getting to know a little bit about her before she died. Three years reduction in life expectancy may not seem very much to some, but it is very significant to the person concerned and to their family who lost a mother, grandmother, and friend. The loss of trust in the medical profession, when someone needs to rely on it most, is not to be underestimated and made this lady’s last few months far more stressful and difficult that they should have been.”

Andrea Rusbridge, a clinical negligence specialist, acted for a client who suffered abdominal pain and a vaginal prolapse in mid-2016. In August 2016. she underwent a pre-operative assessment and was advised to have a vaginal hysterectomy. She was not given an operation date and because of this she thought her condition was not urgent. 

In early 2017, she phoned the hospital, as she hadn’t heard anything further from them. She was informed that they had lost her medical records and that she would have to go to the bottom of the waiting list. An operation was booked for July 2017, meanwhile she continued to experience a lot of abdominal pain.

Following that surgery, she was still suffering from abdominal pain. She raised this in a follow up appointment with the consultant surgeon, who reassured her that it would take time to recover. Over the next three months our client’s pain increased and she became very unwell. In October 2017 she was seen by her consultant surgeon and again complained about her continuing pain. She was told that the pain was due to her age and that she was still recovering from the operation. 

Over the next few weeks, she continued to feel really unwell. She was diagnosed with pleurisy. In late November 2017 she was admitted to hospital and was advised that she had a metastatic adenocarcinoma.  There were also liver and lung metastases .

All this had actually had been diagnosed in July 2017 following her operation, but she had not been given those results or ever told anything about it. She was eventually informed that the cancer was not curable and began chemotherapy at the end of 2017. Certain she had not been treated as she should have been, our client initially asked us for help and formally instructed Shoosmiths to investigate a claim in May 2018. Sadly, later that year she passed away and her son, equally determined to get justice for his mother, took over the claim following her death in November 2018.

Shoosmiths had instructed an expert in gynaecological oncology, who confirmed there was a delay in treatment of 10 months and as a result this reduced our client’s life expectancy by three years. The defendant hospital admitted there was a failure to provide the vaginal hysterectomy within an acceptable time period, there was a delay in diagnosis of the ovarian cancer and as a result there was a delay in providing treatment. The claim successfully settled following negotiations, finally concluding in December 2021.

Our client’s son said:

“Andrea went above and beyond her responsibilities and duties when reviewing our case and then demonstrated her vast experience in dealing with NHS claims. Her pragmatic advice and tenacity are a credit to Shoosmiths. I would firmly recommend Andrea and the Shoosmiths team.”

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Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022

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