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Widow Receives £30,000 After Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Leads to Her Husband’s Premature Death

07 December 2015

A widow has been awarded £30,000 after a delay in diagnosing her husband’s cancer led to his premature death.

Settlement Value: £30,000

Slater and Gordon Solicitor: Paul Sankey is a clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

What happened: Slater and Gordon acted for a 69-year-old woman whose husband had sadly died from a rare abdominal cancer.

In 1991, whilst living in the USA, our client’s husband underwent an operation to remove a low-grade malignant tumour from his abdomen. The tumour recurred and he underwent further operations in 2003 and 2008, both in England.

In April 2009, he underwent a follow-up CT scan which was incorrectly reported as normal. In fact it showed two lesions that were present in his liver representing the spread of his cancer.

A further CT scan in October 2009 was reported as showing multiple liver lesions. He then underwent a liver biopsy in December 2009 which confirmed that the cancer had recurred and spread.

The disease progressed quickly and by early 2010 only palliative treatment was possible. In November 2010, he sadly died.

How Slater and Gordon helped: We were instructed by the client in February 2011. After concluding that there were good prospects of success, we agreed to pursue the claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), commonly known as a no win, no fee agreement.

We relied on a letter from the hospital sent to our client’s husband prior to his death in November 2009. This letter admitted that the CT scan performed in April 2009 was misreported and that he could have undergone surgery at that stage.

We then obtained medical evidence from a radiologist, histopathologist, liver surgeon and sarcoma surgeon to investigate what difference the delay in diagnosis had made. They confirmed that under the balance of probabilities, had the CT scan in April 2009 been interpreted correctly, our client’s husband could have undergone surgery which would have prolonged his life by two years although it would not have cured him.

This claim was strongly contested by the defendants who produced expert evidence suggesting that earlier diagnosis would not in fact have altered his management or the outcome.

As this was a rare cancer about which little is known, the medical issues were unusually complex.

Decision: Slater and Gordon issued proceedings in October 2013. We progressed them to the point at which expert evidence was due to be exchanged.

Despite the widely differing views of the experts, we were able to negotiate a settlement in the sum of £30,000 to reflect the loss of the benefit to our client of her husband’s income over two years.

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