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Shoosmiths result: better protection of fertility during cervical cancer treatment at Addenbrookes Hospital

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The purpose of bringing a claim for compensation for clinical negligence is to put the injured person back in the position he/she would have been ‘but for’ the injury sustained.

In addition to compensation for pain and suffering there may also be claims for loss of earnings, medical costs, care, and claims for adaptations to accommodation, for example.

Many of our clients are also seeking an apology for what has happened and most importantly, a change in clinical practice to ensure that other people do not suffer in the same way.

This is precisely what happened to our client.

Our client underwent surgery for cervical cancer in 2017. The operation she consented to undergo was a fertility sparing procedure called a ‘radical trachelectomy’ the aim of which was to remove the cancer without causing infertility. Our client opted for this procedure as she was a young woman who was planning to have children in the future.

In fact, through the course of our investigations it was discovered that the surgery which our client actually underwent was a ‘simple trachelectomy’ which in broad terms meant that whilst it was less invasive, it did not remove all of the cancer and she later had to undergo a radical hysterectomy to cure her.

This of course meant that our client was left infertile and could not have the family she longed for.

The defendant in this case, Addenbrookes hospital, admitted that had a radical trachelectomy been carried out in the first place then our client’s cancer would have been cured and her fertility would have been preserved, however they did not admit liability for their mistake.

The case, however, settled out of court and our client recovered compensation which included surrogacy costs to allow her to undergo surrogacy in the USA.

In addition and importantly for others undergoing treatment at Addenbrookes is that the Trust has now changed their policy as a result of our client’s case and now all patients with early cervical cancer will be offered radical trachelectomy and simple trachelectomy is now no longer offered as a treatment option.

Sarah Harper, specialist clinical negligence lawyer at Shoosmiths, said: “the focus of our work is patient safety and we are proud that as a result of our bringing this case, real and immediate changes have been made at the Trust, which will ensure that other women will not have to suffer loss of their fertility as our client has.”

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