Clinical Negligence

Delayed diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma

Jonathan Herbert, specialist clinical negligence lawyer, acting for the claimant recovered damages of £75,000 to compensate the claimant for her pain and suffering and financial losses.

Mrs E, who lived alone, had a history of primary lymphoedema and solar keratosis. Over the years she had suffered numerous solar keratosis lesions on her feet. We were instructed to investigate treatment received for a right foot lesion at Southlands Hospital as she had been left with a large non healing ulcer on her foot which put her at risk of amputation.

It was alleged on Mrs E’s behalf that a pathologist had failed to identify the invasive component on the biopsy at the initial reporting and that the treating dermatologist had failed to (a) recognise that based on the clinical appearance and history of the lesion, the biopsy was not a representative sample, (b) to review the histology with the pathologist to discuss cutting deeper levels to exclude a squamous cell carcinoma and (c) arrange for a further, deeper biopsy to be undertaken. It was argued that these failures delayed the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma resulting in:

  • Rapid growth of the lesion, almost quadrupling in size
  • Invasive surgery to remove the lesion
  • A split skin graft reconstruction
  • A course of radiotherapy because the lesion was not removed fully due to the size.

In consequence of this Mrs E was left with a large granulating non healing ulcer and required assistance with domestic chores due to impaired mobility. Without the unnecessary delays the lesion would have been smaller and would have been removed in its entirety by a procedure which would have been curative.

Alongside the letter of response denying all the breaches duty and causative consequences alleged, the defendant made an offer of settlement. In the light of the amputation risk, we advised that investigations continue with a view to seeking provisional damages should she suffer an amputation at a later date. However, Mrs E preferred a final settlement in order to put the matter behind her. A counter offer made by Mrs E for £90,000 was rejected and in response, the defendant increased its offer to £75,000 which was accepted without court proceedings needing to be issued.

Jonathan Herbert specialises in cases involving delayed diagnosis and treatment. If you would like to ask Jonathan a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any personal injury, contact him at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01982 701226 in confidence. We offer no win no fee agreements on the vast majority of our clinical negligence and personal injury cases.

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