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Woman Who Suffered Delayed Diagnosis Speaks Out After Trust Admits Errors

The NHS Trust Responsible Admitted Failures In Correctly Reporting Scans

13.02.2019

James Clarke, Press Officer | +44 (0)161 838 3169

A mother-of-two who has given up her job and lost use of her arm following a delayed diagnosis of a tumour in her shoulder is speaking out following a settlement.

Gillian Woodriff, 61 from Leeds, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2007 and subsequently underwent a bone scan the following month. The scan showed an abnormality in her left shoulder, however in January the following year she was told that the results of her scan were satisfactory.

Five years later, Gillian sought medical attention as she was suffering from pain in her left shoulder. In May 2015, Gillian had an MRI scan which showed a fracture and tumour in her shoulder. She was diagnosed with metastasis, the development of secondary growths from the primary site of cancer.

Following her delayed diagnosis, Gillian instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care she had received. Her legal team secured a five-figure settlement for Gillian after the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that her bone scans had not been accurately reported.

Rebecca Pearey, the medical negligence specialist at Irwin Mitchell that represented Gillian, said: 

Expert Opinion
“Gillian’s experience highlights the need for proper and thorough care.

“After being diagnosed with breast cancer, she was then let down when scans were misreported and opportunities missed to diagnose her metastasis. These failures have resulted in Gillian essentially losing the use of her left arm, having to give up her job and having to rely on friends and family to help her perform household tasks.

“This is why we are happy to have helped secure admissions from the NHS Trust, and the settlement for Gillian which will help fund her care and rehabilitation. We will continue to work with her to ensure she has the support she needs.”
Rebecca Pearey, Associate Solicitor

Left-handed Gillian has since lost use of her left arm and has had to give up her role as a special needs assistant. 

Gillian said: “My breast cancer diagnosis shook me to my core. I went through my chemotherapy, mastectomy and reconstruction and thought that was it. It was over.

“I had been concerned about my shoulder throughout my chemo but tried to reassure myself that if it was an issue, I’d have been told. Then, when I experienced pain years later, I was instantly worried.

“As it’s got worse, my life has been turned upside down again. I can’t write and have to keep my arm in a sling for long periods. Jobs around the house that used to be taken for granted are near impossible tasks now.”

Gillian was diagnosed with cancer in her right breast in November 2007 following a triple assessment at the Breast Clinic at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. A month later, on 18 December Gillian underwent the bone scan which showed the abnormality in the left shoulder. 

Three days later, she had a CT scan which showed the presence of a lesion but no mention was made to the bone scan. Gillian then underwent chemotherapy to treat her cancer.

On 21 January, 2008, Gillian was seen by a Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Breast Clinic. She was told that explained that her bone scan was essentially satisfactory but some “increased uptake was noted in the left glenohumeral joint” and a plain x-ray was suggested.

This x-ray was carried out the same day and in Gillian’s medical records it is noted that:
“There is a 2.6cm lucent area with a sclerotic rim in the anteroinferior aspect of the humeral head. This has benign appearances and may represent degenerative change focally. It does not have the clear characteristics of a metastatic lesion and there is no radiological concern here.”

The NHS Trust has since admitted that it failed to report the presence of the lesion shown on the CT scan results from 21 December 2007. It also failed to report the x-ray scan dated 21 January 2008 to a reasonable standard by including the wording "there is no radiological concern here" which gave a false reassurance to the referring clinicians. 

The NHS Trust has also admitted that the lesion visible on the CT scan of 21 December 2007 and x-ray of 21 January 2008 represented metastatic disease. Had Gillian’s diagnosis of metastatic disease in the left shoulder been made earlier the treatment, she would probably have avoided the pain and disability associated with her left shoulder.

Gillian added: “The admissions from the Trust are a double-edged sword. In a way it’s a positive that they have taken responsibility for their actions, or lack of. However, knowing that the health issues I suffer from now were potentially avoidable is very frustrating.”

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