James Cahan, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) offices, has secured compensation for a woman whose diagnosis and treatment or cervical cancer was delayed for 5 ½ years after her GP and consultant failed to act on a positive smear test.
The claimant in this medical negligence claim was a 54 year old woman who had a history of hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2005 she underwent a routine cervical smear which showed severe dyskaryosis (abnormal cells) with features of invasion. An urgent referral to gynaecology for a colposcopy (examination of the surface of the cervix) was recommended.
The claimant underwent the colposcopy within two months. Histology samples showed extensive CIN3 (pre-cancerous cells) and it was recommended that the claimant undergo LLETZ (a procedure to cut out the CIN3 cells).
However, no follow up was arranged and four months later the hospital wrote to the claimant’s GP to enquire whether there had been any follow up. The GP did not respond.
The following year the claimant’s rheumatoid arthritis deteriorated and she was noted to be bed bound and requiring care from her family.
3 ½ years after the first smear the claimant attended her GP for a repeat. However when she arrived they realised a second nurse would be required to help take the smear. Therefore a second appointment was booked.
Two months later the claimant attended her GP who noted that the claimant had not had a cervical smear for four years due to disability. The smear was taken.
The second smear showed severe dyskaryosis and the claimant was again referred to the colposcopy clinic. She was seen 6 weeks later and it was decided she should undergo LLETZ under a general anaesthetic. However, shortly before the procedure an anaesthetist advised that the claimant’s LLETZ procedure should be cancelled whilst her blood pressure and chronic lung problems were reviewed. After being unable to attend a further review appointment the claimant was removed from the waiting list for this procedure.
Over one year later the claimant attended a new GP in relation complaining of bleeding and an immediate referral was made to the colposcopy clinic for urgent treatment.
The loop biopsy procedure was finally undertaken 5 ½ years after the initial smear test. The claimant was found to have IIB cervical cancer. Further biopsies revealed that she had invasive squamous cell carcinoma.
James Cahan, acting for the claimant successfully argued that the GP had failed in his duty to the claimant when he had failed to respond to letters from the hospital, asking if follow up had been undertaken. It was also argued that the consultant had failed to appreciate that the first procedure had not removed enough of the pre-cancerous cells, that he had failed to follow up the claimant adequately and that had also acted negligently when he removed the claimant from the operation waiting list.
James was able to obtain an out-of-court settlement for the claimant to compensate her for her pain and suffering.
James Cahan specialises in cervical cancer cases. If you would like to ask James a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any medical negligence, contact James at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701289 in confidence.