Boyes Turner’s medical negligence claims specialists have secured an admission of liability (fault) and an apology for the widow of a 30-year-old man who died as a result of negligent treatment of a tumour in his liver.
Our client’s husband underwent an MRI scan at the defendant hospital after an ultrasound scan during a private health check-up revealed a mass on his liver. Following the MRI scan, the mass was diagnosed as a FNH or focal nodular hyperplasia. FNH is a common, benign tumour of the liver, which is not normally a cause for concern as it does not usually grow in size or become malignant. He was not referred for further investigation or treatment. The plan in his GP notes was for follow-up imaging in a year’s time. He did not receive any follow up, so he requested a repeat ultrasound which took place 14 months after the original diagnosis. The repeat ultrasound scan revealed that the FNH tumour had increased in size. He was not referred to the gastroenterology team for review, even though the tumour had grown and the ultrasound report indicated a review was necessary.
No further action was taken until the man contacted his GP a year later. He was then referred for an MRI scan and review by the gastroenterologists, and a referral was made to the liver clinic. Meanwhile, he saw his GP over the next two months with symptoms of itching and diarrhoea, and his blood tests revealed abnormal liver function. He developed signs of jaundice. An ultrasound scan a month later showed significant further growth of the tumour which was now compressing the biliary tree. The scan report recommended urgent referral to a gastroenterology liver specialist.
Ten days later he was seen at the hospital by a specialist doctor who discussed his case with the consultant hepatologist (liver specialist). A plan was made for him to have an urgent MRI scan and ultrasound guided biopsy. He was admitted to hospital two days later and waited a further two days for an MRI scan, which confirmed the increase in the tumour’s size. Whilst in hospital his blood tests showed that his liver function was deteriorating. His doctors sought advice from a liver specialist at another hospital, who recommended further investigations, including an MRI scan, CT scans of his chest, abdomen and pelvis, and biopsy of the liver tumour. Following a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PCT) he suffered post-operative complications including acute pancreatitis and a fistula of the hepatic artery. He suffered liver failure and died soon afterwards. The biopsy, which was only reported after his death, revealed that the tumour in the liver was not a FNH but a hepatocellular adenoma.
A post-mortem examination revealed that his death was caused by ‘acute liver failure and liver infarction (damage to liver tissue from lack of blood supply) following embolization of the hepatic artery to arrest severe haemorrhage (treatment to block the hepatic artery to stop severe bleeding) as a consequence of a percutaneous biliary drain insertion for the management of obstructive jaundice secondary to (as a result of) a large hepatocellular adenoma.’
Making a claim leads to admission of liability and apology
The hospital’s investigation into our client’s husband’s treatment following his scans had been carried out by its own staff and concluded that they had provided acceptable care. However, our independent medical expert believed that there had been negligent delays in referring him for gastroenterological review which would have led to a liver biopsy and surgical resection of his liver, and that correct treatment would have avoided his death.
We helped our client pursue a medical negligence claim against the hospital and represented the family at the coroner’s inquest that took place over four days. NHS Resolution’s response to the claim admitted the hospital’s negligent failure to refer our client’s husband to the gastroenterology team after the findings of the repeat ultrasound scan, which showed that the tumour had grown. They accepted that if he had been referred correctly, this would have led to an earlier biopsy and surgical resection of the liver, and his death would have been avoided. They made a formal apology to the deceased’s wife.
We are now working with our client and our experts to assess the value of the claim, in preparation for settlement negotiations. In addition to the statutory bereavement payment and funeral expenses, the claim will include compensation for the deceased’s avoidable pain and suffering, and his widow’s and his two children’s loss of dependency on his income and contribution to the family and home.
If you have suffered serious injury or bereavement as a result of medical negligence, or have been contacted by HSIB/HSSIB, MNSI or NHS Resolution after your hospital care, you can talk to one of our solicitors for advice about how to respond or make a claim for compensation by contacting us here.