South Manchester University Hospital NHS Trust
A woman from Sale who says she was made to feel like a hypochondriac by hospital consultants who delayed a diagnosis of cervical cancer during her pregnancy, has been awarded substantial damages from South Manchester University Hospital NHS Trust.
The young mum of two, who was just 23 at the time, was pregnant with her second child when she became ill and visited Wythenshawe Hospital on numerous occasions suffering with severe back pain and irregular bleeding.
Even after the birth of her healthy baby boy, Nichola was so poorly that she decided to bring the date of her son's christening forward through fear she was going to die.
"I was in and out of hospital from being 15 weeks pregnant," she said. "I was really worried about mine and the baby's health. I just knew something was wrong. Benjamin was my second child, my first pregnancy had been very straightforward."
Three weeks before the birth, Nichola had to be rushed into Wythenshawe hospital again with severe pain and bleeding. Abnormalities were found in her cervix, but hospital staff advised her to go home and come back four weeks after the birth of her baby, for further examinations.
Nichola said that she felt the Consultant was more concerned about the baby, and making sure he was ok than her health. Due to complications she had to be induced two weeks early, and after an agonising 36-hour labour, Benjamin was delivered by emergency caesarean.
Benjamin was born healthy, but Nichola was still very poorly. Despite her condition though, she was discharged on 28th March 2003 and sent an appointment for further examination. A biopsy was taken in June and it was then that the diagnosis of cervical cancer was made.
Nichola was rushed back into surgery at Wythenshawe and a tumour was found that was so large it was crushing Nichola's kidneys.
She said: "After I regained consciousness post surgery, it was then that I was told the real reason behind my illness. I had stage four cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease."
"The staff at Wythenshawe said there was nothing more they could do for me and were prepared to send me home with painkillers and nephrostomy bags, until one of the palliative care nurses spoke to me."
The nurse booked an appointment for Nichola at The Christie hospital, where consultant Dr Hunter took over the case. He arranged a course of intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which resulted in Nichola having to stay in hospital for a further four months.
"Dr Hunter saved my life," Nichola said. "If it hadn't have been for him and the staff at The Christie, I wouldn't be here today. I can't have any more children, but at least I am alive and here for my boys."
Nichola is in remission now, but still suffers with health issues.
Dina Lambourne, a clinical negligence solicitor from the Manchester office of Irwin Mitchell, is representing Nichola and her family. She said: "The delay in diagnosis of cancer of the cervix when Nichola was pregnant with Benjamin resulted in Nichola almost losing her life.
"Cervical cancer can occur in younger women as well as older women, and a patients age should not prevent them from being fully examined."
Dina added: "Had Nichola's condition been investigated more thoroughly in the early stages, the cancer would not have developed to such an advanced stage and the subsequent trauma of having to have intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy could have been avoided."
Nichola has received compensation for her injuries to date. However, if the cancer were to re-occur or if Nichola develops certain side effects from the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she is entitled to go back to the Court and have her claim re-opened with the potential of being compensated further in relation to those specific occurrences.
If you have suffered due to a delayed cervical cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosed cervical cancer, 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.