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Mum Died Of Lung Cancer After Visiting GP Surgery Ten Times

Andrew Bowman, Solicitor and medical law expert from Irwin Mitchell, has successfully won compensation for the family of Sandra Martin, who died from lung cancer that was left undetected for years despite regular visits to her GP.

Devoted Mum Sandra Martin first visited her GP, Dr Prakash Ahuja, at West Walk Surgery in Yate, near Bristol, in April 2006. She complained of a cough that had lasted for four months and was examined, but told everything looked fine and given antibiotics to treat a chest infection.


Sandra saw the same GP again the following month, as her cough was not showing any improvement. However, she was again sent away with no further treatment.

Over the next two years, the grandmother of 11 complained to five doctors and two nurses but was ‘fobbed off’ with antibiotics, despite NHS guidelines recommending patients with a persistent cough to be referred for a chest X-rays. It was not until she insisted on having a chest X-ray in March 2008 that lung cancer was finally diagnosed, and by this stage the cancer was very advanced.

Sandra underwent intensive chemotherapy, radiotherapy and an operation to remove the tumour, but following a period of remission, she was again diagnosed with lung cancer that was incurable and further treatment would only be palliative.

Further cancer treatment in Spain, weakened Sandra’s immune system and sadly, in October 2011, aged 64, Sandra died from a lung infection.

Case Investigated 

Sandra and her husband Robert approached Irwin Mitchell shortly after her diagnosis in 2008 and Irwin Mitchell began investigating the case immediately, but sadly Sandra died before the case was settled.

Husband Robert vowed to continue the battle Sandra had started and is determined to raise awareness of the dangers of a persistent cough and also GP's duties to refer their patients for chest x-rays.

Expert medical evidence commissioned by Irwin Mitchell concluded that had Sandra been referred for a chest X-ray prior to December 2006, the cancer would have been identified and she would have had surgery to remove the tumour. It was also found that had this been the case, Sandra would not have needed chemotherapy or radiotherapy and she would have made a full recovery, and her death could have been avoided.

Denial Of Liability

Despite this evidence, Dr Ahuja, who saw Sandra twice within a month, refused to admit any responsibility but did eventually agree to settle the case before the trial date, but he maintains that he was not to blame. This has been very hard for Sandra’s family to accept.

Andrew Bowman, Solicitor and medical law expert from Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office representing the family, said:

“NHS guidelines are in place for a reason – to protect the safety of patients – and for a GP to completely disregard these is both shocking and deeply worrying.

“While the settlement compensates the family for the treatment and care for Sandra that they paid for and it draws a line under the legal proceedings, we continue to support the family in their calls for an apology for their loss. We are also very keen to see that any lessons that can be learnt are shared throughout GP surgeries and the NHS to prevent any further unnecessary deaths.”

Husband Robert added: “Sandra and I had a long, happy retirement planned which we hoped would see us move out to our second home in Spain and have the children and grandchildren regularly visit.

“We just hope that by taking legal action and making others aware of Sandra’s case that it leads to greater care being taken to follow NHS guidelines. My hope is that no other families have to go through the disastrous and painful times we all endured.”

If you have suffered due to misdiagnosed lung cancer or a delayed lung 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.

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