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Woman Takes Legal Action After Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Left Her Needing An Above Knee Amputation

Medical Negligence Lawyers Are Investigating The Care Received By The Woman

09.01.2017

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A woman who had undergo an above knee amputation, and only discovered she had cancer because she read her own medical notes, has instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care provided to her by the Central Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, broke her left leg, fracturing the femur, at the beginning of this year on 3rd January, following weeks of GP visits complaining about issues with her left knee.

On her admission to hospital, she was given a CT scan, X-rays and blood tests to see whether it was a pathological fracture, a bone fracture caused by a disease that had weakened the bone structure.

Even though she had a clinical history of underlying malignancy, her initial results were misinterpreted leading to her medical team excluding malignancy, which ultimately led to an inappropriate surgery being performed on the 7th, when the patient underwent femoral nailing surgery. This is when a metal rod is driven into the cavity of the bone to help treat the fracture.

During the surgery, a bone sample was taken and sent for tests on the 3rd February which revealed a cancerous tumour. A subsequent investigation by the NHS Trust found that the treatment options for this tumour ‘were compromised by the surgery performed’ and may have adversely affected the patient’s prognosis. 

The NHS investigation also highlighted other failures in the patient’s treatment, notably that the CT scan she was given “did not include the site where the primary tumour was located in the thigh.”

Mark Havenhand, the Partner and expert medical negligence lawyer representing the woman, said: 

Expert Opinion
“The swift, and more importantly, accurate diagnosis of cancer is absolutely crucial as early treatment can often provide the best possible chances of recovery and to prevent long-term health complications.

“Sadly, in this case, the NHS’ own investigation suggests that the staff who treated the woman at the NHS Trust in question failed to carry out the correct tests, meaning her cancer was not diagnosed as early as it could have been.

“Now, we have a woman who is not only coming to terms with undergoing an above knee amputation, but also a cancer diagnosis which has been devastating for her. We are investigating the care and hope that lessons will be learned to reduce the risk of similar situation occurring in future.”
Mark Havenhand, Partner

Following her discharge from the Emergency Surgical Trauma Unit, the woman was subsequently admitted to hospital with complications of deep vein thrombosis, a common after effect in patients who have surgery on their legs, on the 2nd February. Following her discharge on the 3rd February, the patient found her discharge notification form had been added to with her test results from the bone sample now included.

This form stated under ‘previous conditions’ a ‘fracture of bone in neoplastic disease,’ which refers to both malignant and benign growths, and more significantly all types of cancer fall into the category of malignant neoplastic diseases. There is no evidence that the woman’s diagnosis had been discussed with her prior to this.

It was not until the 9th February, when the woman was a patient in hospital with chest pains, that she received an explanation from the Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon of the recent events, and had her cancer diagnosis confirmed. 

Mark added: 

Expert Opinion
“Clearly, what has happened in this case in unacceptable. No one should ever be in a position where they are unsure of their own health, especially when that person is actually suffering from cancer. On this occasion she actually read about her cancer diagnosis in her own medical notes before staff were able to explain what was happening.”
Mark Havenhand, Partner

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