02 November 2007
Doctor ruled negligent in cancer case
Winchester District Court has held that a doctor who failed to diagnose breast cancer in a patient acted negligently.
Dr Sarah Tottle was found to have failed in her duty to Sharon Adshead by failing to diagnose the disease, which later killed Mrs Adshead.
District judge Mr Justice Gray awarded widower Martin Adshead £325,000 in damages.
Dr Tottle, who was a recently qualified locum doctor at the time, examined Mrs Adshead in 2000 after she complained of a lump on her breast.
Although the judge agreed that Dr Tottle's examination had been "impeccable", she had declared the area "benign" and suggested Mrs Adshead should return in a month to review the situation.
The judge stated that this decision was incorrect and explained that on discovering the lump, the doctor should have referred Mrs Adshead to a specialist because this is what is required by Department of Health guidelines.
Mrs Adshead was reassured by Dr Tottle that her lump was benign and as a result she was not diagnosed with breast cancer for a further 15 months. Despite treatment, Mrs Adshead died in January 2003.
Dr Tottle, who now practices in Australia, denied the claims, according to Legal and Medical magazine.