Widow And Medical Negligence Lawyers Call For Lessons To Be Learned Following Death of Royal Navy Veteran
A widow has welcomed a Hospital Trust’s pledge to take action following the death of her husband whose cancer went undetected for six months.
Dad-of-two, David Hulme, who was originally from Bradford before moving to Plymouth, had his right lung removed at Derriford Hospital in June 2020. He had a history of chest and respiratory symptoms, including an abscess.
Following the surgery, the lung was tested and sarcoidosis - a rare condition that causes organs to develop small patches of red and swollen tissue - confirmed.
David’s symptoms worsened and he attended another hospital in January 2021. The lung samples were reviewed again and he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer which originates in the lymph system.
He died that March, aged 49.
Following his death, David’s widow Sarah, 52, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under the University Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Derriford Hospital.
Following an inquest at Plymouth’s Coroner Court last June coroner Ian Arrow issued a Prevention of Future Deaths Report. In it, he expressed concerns that the pathology department was “significantly under resourced” and requested a review of staffing levels to “ensure timely and accurate diagnosis of conditions.”
In a written response to the coroner, the Trust confirmed that funding had since been approved for four further consultant pathologists and it had taken ‘additional action’ and was ‘reviewing’ processes to improve the system and ‘further reduce the risk of harm’ to patients.
The response comes after the Hospital Trust admitted a breach of duty in a legal case brought by Irwin Mitchell on behalf of Sarah. The Trust admitted that it failed to identify and report a diagnosis of lymphoma and failed to seek a second opinion on test results.
An internal root cause analysis investigation report from the Trust also found that David “may have survived with earlier treatment.”
Expert Opinion“It’s been almost two years since David death, and his loved ones remain devastated by their loss.
Understandably Sarah had many concerns over David’s care with the Trust’s, ours and the coroner’s investigations all highlighting worrying issues.
Following the coroner’s Prevention of Future Deaths Report we welcome the Trust’s confirmation that it’s taking action to recruit more staff which we hope will help improve patient care.
While nothing will make up for the pain and anguish David’s family have suffered Sarah hopes that by speaking out she can raise awareness of cancer and how early detection and treatment are key to beating it.” James Pink, Medical Negligence Lawyer
David’s operation took place on 29 June, 2020. Sarcoidosis was reported, with no follow-up appointment arranged.
His condition deteriorated and he was seen at another hospital around seven months after his surgery. The histopathology results were requested by the hospital for another review.
David was diagnosed with cancer on 8 February 2021. He underwent one round of chemotherapy but died on 6 March.
At the time of his death, Royal Navy veteran David lived with Sarah, his wife of 19 years in Plymouth after moving there from where he grew up in Wilsden, Bradford. David went to St Bede's and St Joseph’s Catholic College in Bradford and was an avid Bradford City AFC fan. The couple also had two sons together, Kieran and Joe, aged 21 and 16 and David would take his sons to lots of Bradford City AFC games.
Sarah said: “The past two years have been nothing short of awful, firstly struggling to come to terms with David’s diagnosis and then losing him so suddenly afterwards.
“We knew things weren’t quite right after his surgery as his symptoms seemed to get worse instead of better, but nothing could have prepared us for the devastating news that he had cancer.
“David was my soulmate and to this day I’m still grieving for him and the life we had together. What makes it worse is knowing that if his cancer had been found and treated earlier, he may still be here.
“Sadly, there’s nothing I can do to change that, no matter how much I wish I could. The only positive I can take from what’s happened is that action is being taken to help stop other families from suffering like we have.
“I also hope that by sharing my story, I can encourage others to see a doctor if they feel something’s not right. We all know our own bodies, so seek a second opinion if you need to. Cancer is a terrible disease that can affect anyone, but finding it early can stop it becoming a death sentence.”