Clinical Negligence

Hospital’s delay in diagnosis of colon cancer leaves claimant with permanent urostomy and colostomy

This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who recently secured compensation of £140,000 when a hospital failed to follow up a missed routine colonoscopy in a patient who was at high risk of developing colon cancer.

The claimant had a strong family history of cancer with both her parents dying of carcinoma of the colon and underwent routine screening colonoscopies on a 3 yearly basis, the last one being performed in 2001. She was due to undergo a screening colonoscopy in January 2004, but this was cancelled because the consultant was not available. She was reassured that a further appointment would be arranged, but this did not happen.

The patient went on to develop violent diarrhoea, with the passage of blood. She wrote to her consultant  raising her concerns, but it was not until March 2005 when attending an appointment that colon cancer was suspected and an urgent colonoscopy was arranged. This identified a tumour and subsequent CT and MRI scans found a tumour invading the bladder and vagina. The patient underwent radical surgery removing the tumour and lymph nodes and formation of a permanent urostomy, colostomy and neo vagina followed by chemotherapy. She was left with significant scarring and developed severe pain in the abdomen, perineum and thighs as well as a para stomal hernia which required mesh repair and ongoing problems with the stoma.

Various experts were instructed including experts in general surgery and cancer. They confirmed that a colonoscopy should have been rescheduled within seven weeks and that had this been performed, the tumour would have been easily diagnosed and would not have infiltrated the vagina, bladder or lymph nodes.

Proceedings were served and the defence, whilst admitting that the colonoscopy should have been rescheduled within seven weeks of the aborted procedure, argued that the patient would have required the same surgery and post operative treatment and suffered the same post operative complications.

The case was complicated by the patient’s medical history involving a hysterectomy and neck injuries following a road traffic accident, both of which occurred prior to her developing cancer and had prevented her from returning to work and restricted her daily activities. A settlement was reached shortly after a case management conference. Compensation for injuries under the current legal system is not generous, but it is hoped that the settlement obtained will provide some means towards improving her lifestyle.

Read more about our experience in cases involving cancer.

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