Call For Lessons To Be Learned
A Weston-super-Mare woman diagnosed with cancer has called for lessons to be learned after receiving a six-figure settlement regarding the care she received before the disease was identified.
The woman was diagnosed with cancer of the anus in March 2015 after complaining of symptoms, including bleeding, for several months.
In the months before she was diagnosed the 67-year-old had attended several medical appointments with a GP and a nurse practitioner, concerned that her symptoms were worsening. She had been diagnosed with haemorrhoids.
Following her diagnosis, the woman, who spent more than 30 years working overseas and who does not want to be named, underwent extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
She instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate concerns that there was a delay in diagnosis.
The GP and nurse practitioner have now agreed a joint undisclosed settlement through the Medical Protection Society. They denied liability.
The GP admitted two breaches of care in respect that they failed to perform thorough investigations during two appointments in January 2015. However, they denied this led to the woman developing cancer.
Expert Opinion“This is a deeply disturbing case where our client felt like her concerns were not acted upon. The cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment has had a massive impact on her life, as she has considerable post-treatment symptoms which affect her every day.
“While nothing can change what she has been through, we hope that this settlement will provide some comfort and help her continue to access support that she requires.
“Following the admissions identified in this case it is vital that steps are now taken to improve patient care.” Elise Burvill - Associate Solicitor
The woman lived and worked overseas for many years and in 2012 she was sent for a colonoscopy as part of a national screening programme in her country of residence. The results came back clear. The woman returned to live in the UK the following year.
In June 2014, she visited a GP after she started experiencing bleeding and was diagnosed with haemorrhoids. With her symptoms still persisting, that November, she attended an appointment with a nurse practitioner during which she said no physical examination took place.
On 6 January, 2015, she attended a GP appointment, however, no examination took place and the duration of bleeding was not measured.
On 19 January she again visited the same GP. They conducted a visual examination but not a digital examination. The duration of bleeding and bowel symptoms were not recorded. The doctor did not refer her for an urgent referral which National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines state.
The woman saw another GP on 11 February and was referred for urgent tests. She was diagnosed on 9 March, 2015.
Following legal investigations the GP admitted that the appointments on 6 and 19 January, 2015, represented a breach of duty in that they should have referred her for urgent scans under the two week wait cancer pathway.
She said: “I was worried about my symptoms for several months and the more they worsened the more worried I became.
“Nothing was stopping the bleeding and my symptoms got to the point where I had diarrhoea for months and I even faced the embarrassment of blood running down my leg while I was out at a restaurant.
“It was horrific. At that point I knew I needed to see someone else and while I was relieved to have had a proper examination, it was devastating to be told I had cancer.”
She then underwent extensive treatment.
She added: “The treatment was incredibly difficult to go through. I had mouth ulcers and could barely eat, while it also got to the point where I could barely walk.
“While so many aspects are behind me now, I suffer so much with issues and symptoms linked to my treatment. I can’t leave the house without taking medication and I have to consider whether I can leave the house without having an accident.
“All of this means I barely go out anymore and my confidence has just disappeared. It is like I have lost all dignity and sometimes I just feel very alone and isolated.
“I realise I may have needed chemotherapy and radiotherapy regardless of when I was referred, but I feel like the delay may have impacted on the intensity of treatment I needed, the scarring I’ve suffered and the post-treatment symptoms I have gone through.
“Nothing will change what has happened sadly, so now I just hope that the issues I’ve faced will not be repeated again.”