Year Long Delay In Diagnosing Father-Of-Three With Bowel Cancer

Medical Negligence Experts At Irwin Mitchell Instructed To Investigate By Family


The daughters of a man who has been diagnosed with cancer is speaking out about their concerns regarding the care he received at Bedford Hospital after it took medical staff over a year to diagnose him despite repeated visits to the hospital with ‘red flag’ symptoms.

The 84-year-old started to suffer from pain and discomfort and altered bowel movements and went to see his GP in December 2013. He was referred to a Bedford Hospital for a suspected hernia on two occasions by his GP.

Throughout 2014, he had multiple investigative colonoscopies (camera used to look at colon and bowel) and polyps removed for tests, but it wasn’t until January this year that he and his family found out the diagnosis. The suspected hernia was later diagnosed as an 8cm tumour in his colon.

The man, from Willington, in Bedford, who is registered blind, was diagnosed in January this year of colon cancer over a year after he first went to the doctor displaying ‘red flag’ symptoms. The cancer has also now spread to the bowel, lymph nodes and pancreas.

His daughters, Jill Culbert and Lorraine Smith instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his treatment at Bedford Hospital which is run by the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust as she was concerned about potential delays in his cancer diagnosis.

After an internal investigation by the NHS Trust, a Serious Incident Report found the following failings in his care:

  • There were several opportunities for the patient’s medical condition to be assessed and the family’s concerns to be addressed
  • A lack of clarity as to whether his condition was being investigated by his GP or the hospital may have contributed to the delay in a CT scan being requested
  • The process for referral of a suspected cancer patient at both A & E/Acute Assessment Unit was not being used effectively
  • Scans reporting suspected cancer should have been flagged through the system and escalated but this did not happen.

His family say that staff at the hospital failed to listen to both their Dad and also their own concerns each time he attended the many various hospital appointments for tests and emergency treatments.

He has recently returned to hospital with fluid in his lungs and also in his legs. He had surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in February this year, and doctors advised that the surgery could have put more strain on his heart so he was admitted to the cardiology department to be monitored.

Stacey Hanson, a specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing the family, said: “Our client’s diagnosis has come as a shock to him and his family, especially after his wife suffered with cancer and passed away in 2009.  The family are desperately seeking answers as to why his condition was not picked up at an earlier point by the doctors who treated him.

“Delays in promptly diagnosing and treating any type of cancer can have devastating consequences and it is vital that doctors focus on the symptoms and give each patient the best possible care.

“In this case we are still in the early stages of our investigation for him and his family to get some answers as to what happened during his care.

“There is sadly nothing that can be done to turn back the clock but this case is about highlighting any potential issues and lessons that can be learnt to hopefully prevent any other families having to go through what he and his family are at the moment.”

Jill & Lorraine also from Willington & Renhold , in Bedford, said: “Our family has been through so much over the last few years after the death of our mother from cancer and now our  father’s cancer diagnosis.

“When he went to the hospital we repeatedly told the doctors his symptoms, his stools were black, he was anaemic, had abdominal pain, losing weight and he was unable to leave the house in case he had to run to the bathroom.

“The NHS TV campaign says if you have symptoms for three weeks seek medical advice, as early diagnosis is essential. We did this and their response was that they were only there to treat the conditions our father was originally admitted for.

“Before all of this he was quite independent and used to ride his three wheel bike a lot. He would go on holidays with the British Legion and was part of the local History club. It’s just been cruelly taken away from him now and we want to know that improvements will be made to prevent others suffering in similar circumstances.

“It’s disappointing to think that there is a possibility that if it had been diagnosed sooner by doctors he may have been able to receive appropriate treatment and we feel it is important that it is fully investigated.

“We feel like history is repeating itself as our mother’s diagnosis was also delayed and we submitted a complaint to the Trust and the Ombudsman was involved, who highlighted the lack of communication, failure to listen to the patient and delays in treatment. Lessons should have been learnt but we are concerned that this is not the case.”

If you have suffered due to misdiagnosed bowel cancer or a delayed bowel cancer diagnosis, our medical negligence lawyers could help you claim compensation. Call 0808 163 4557 for a free initial consultation or see our Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims page for more details.