Widow Instructs Medical Negligence Lawyers Following Death of Company Director
The devastated family of a Plymouth dad-of-two who died from cancer following a six-month delay in diagnosis are calling for lessons to be learned.
David Hulme underwent surgery to remove his right lung in June 2020 at Derriford Hospital. This came six years after he was given a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, a rare condition that causes organs to develop small patches of red and swollen tissue.
David was advised the results from his lung were consistent with his sarcoidosis.
However, his condition deteriorated and he was referred to another hospital in January 2021. At this point, the results were reviewed again. David was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer which starts in the lymph system, the following month.
He died in March 2021, aged 49.
Following David’s death, his widow Sarah, 51, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to help establish answers and support the family through the inquest process.
The family have now spoken out after the Coroner returned a narrative verdict and decided to make a Prevention of Future Deaths Report.
This comes after the University Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Derriford Hospital, admitted to a breach of duty to fail to identify and report that the histopathology taken from David’s lung removal was ‘consistent with a diagnosis of B cell lymphoma.’ It also admitted a breach of duty not to seek a second opinion following the review of the histopathology resulted in a delay in the reporting of atypical cells.
In a letter to Sarah’s legal team, the Hospital Trust apologised that the care provided to David ‘fell below an acceptable standard.’
A Root Cause Analysis Investigation Report was also carried out by University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust. It found David’s lymphoma was aggressive and he ‘may have survived with earlier treatment.’
Expert Opinion“Understandably coming to terms with losing David has been incredibly difficult for his family.
For the past year, Sarah in particular has had a number of concerns over the care provided to her husband prior to his cancer diagnosis and subsequent sudden death.
While nothing will make up for the suffering David’s loved ones have gone through, and also having to relive everything again at the inquest, we’re pleased to have at least been able to help provide them with the answers they deserved.
Unfortunately, worrying issues in the care David received have been highlighted. While it’s too late for David, it’s now vital that lessons are learned to improve patient care. Early detection and treatment are key to beating cancer.”
James Pink - Solicitor
David was admitted to hospital as an emergency on 12 June, 2020, following several weeks of respiratory symptoms which failed to improve with antibiotics. He had been suffering seizures and displayed neurological symptoms. He was also found to have emboli, described as blood clots in the veins, and investigations indicated an abscess in his right lung, the inquest heard.
He underwent surgery to remove his right lung on 29 June. Histopathology results were reported to be consistent with his sarcoidosis and no further review was carried out.
Plymouth’s Coroner’s Court was told that David’s condition continued to deteriorate and he was referred to another hospital in January 2021 for further investigation. His previous histopathology results were requested by the hospital and reviewed again due to suspected lymphoma, which was diagnosed on 8 February, 2021.
David underwent one round of chemotherapy but died on 6 March, 2021.
The Root Cause Analysis Report said that David’s death had led to lessons being learned. This includes staff being ‘encouraged to collaborate, seek and share opinions on a proportion of their cases.’ In addition, where a second opinion is sought, a code will be used to indicate this. It was also recommended that a standard operating procedure be put in place to support further review of cases with a timeframe outlined.
Prior to his death, David and Sarah had been married for 19 years. They were parents to two sons, Kieran and Joe, aged 21 and 15 respectively. Sarah also has three grown up daughters from a previous relationship.
David, who had previously been in the Royal Navy for 14 years, worked as a director for a network cabling company. Sarah is now a part-owner of the company, and Kieran and Sarah’s son-in-law also works there. David set up the business so that his sons would have a job to go to if they wished.
Sarah said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult, and I miss David more than words can say. When he began to feel unwell, I never once thought it would end the way it did.
“To be told he had cancer was absolutely devastating, and then to lose him less than a month later was unbearable.
“David was the best husband and dad and we still can’t accept that we’ll never see him again. David and I were meant to grow old together; now I don’t know what to do.
“I’d give anything to bring him back, but I know that’s not possible, and reliving what happened at the inquest has been really tough. But at least we have some answers now, and all I can hope is that something is learned so other families don’t have to go through what we have.”