Delayed diagnosis seriously impacted the client's life

In 2019, our client Anne Shaw went for a routine x-ray for a medical procedure. Nothing of concern was brought to Anne’s attention but at this time she had developed cancer again.

12 February 2024

Our client, Anne, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, but after a lumpectomy and removal of lymph nodes followed by chemotherapy gave her the all-clear, she was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After she underwent surgery to remove her ovaries, she was again told she was cancer-free.

In 2019, Anne returned to St James’s for routine scans. Having had cancer previously in her life, years after her initial diagnosis, she began noticing some warning signs and experiencing pain that was similar to what she had felt when she had been previously diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She returned the following year, having booked a gynaecology appointment to discuss this in the winter of 2020. At this appointment, after the doctor asked Anne a series of questions, she was told she did not have cancer. With this reassurance from her doctor that she remained cancer free, Anne carried on with her life under this impression.

In 2021, Anne’s condition had worsened, and she was struggling with pain and fatigue. Having returned to her GP, who fast tracked her referral to the oncology team at St James Hospital, where it was confirmed that Anne’s ovarian cancer had in fact returned. With this diagnosis, Anne was told she required major surgery. Had the cancer been detected earlier, in addition to the potential for longer life expectancy and better quality of life, Anne would also not have had to undergo a colostomy. She now lives with a stoma, which severely restricts her diet and activities.

Now, Anne and her husband Louis are facing up to the reality that she may have only months left to live, after doctors warned there is nothing more that can be done.

"While I’m of course upset about the scans, it’s the appointment in 2020, where I was given the poorest of examinations, that really sticks in my throat,” Anne says.

“My life has been turned upside down, everything has changed, all because of these two missed opportunities to find out that my cancer has returned. The stoma is particularly hard to live with, it’s horrendous, the most horrible thing I could imagine.”

In one of Anne’s appointments, the doctor in charge of her care told her he had a ‘duty of candour,’ which means healthcare professionals must tell the person when something has gone wrong, apologise to the person, offer an appropriate remedy or support to put matters right if this is possible. Due to this, he was duty bound to disclose that Anne’s cancer was visible on the X-ray she had in 2019, and it had not been flagged.

How Slater and Gordon helped

After the surgery and the revelation that if it had been caught sooner, her cancer would not have been as aggressive, Anne decided the responsible parties should be held accountable for the negligence she experienced. She contacted Slater and Gordon.

John Lowther, senior associate solicitor specialising in medical negligence, supported Anne, and secured a settlement from St James’s University Hospital.

“This is an absolutely shocking case of two opportunities to identify Anne’s cancer being missed – because of the failures to realise it had returned, she now has a much poorer quality of life and is understandably very distressed about living with a stoma,” says John.

How we can help you

A delayed diagnosis can drastically affect your health and lead to a worsening medical condition. If you, or someone you know had an illness or injury that was worsened because of a delayed medical diagnosis, Slater and Gordon’s specialist legal experts could help get the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has suffered because of a delayed diagnosis, call us on 0330 107 6508 or contact us here to learn more about how we can help.

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