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Written by Julie Marsh

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence specialists have secured a £2 million settlement for a mother in her early 40s who was left with a significant respiratory disability by nearly a four-year delay in diagnosis and treatment of her tuberculosis (TB).

She initially attended her GP with a history of a five-month, non-productive cough. A chest x-ray was taken which revealed a cavitating lesion in the upper lobe of her left lung, which was thought to be active TB or aspergillus mycetoma. She was referred to the defendant hospital. She was suffering from a persistent cough, night sweats and weight loss. A CT scan confirmed the lesion in the left upper lobe of her lung and was reported to be due to previous TB (which she had never had) or aspergillosis and her sputum samples were reported as negative for tuberculosis. Her partner and children were advised to undergo screening for TB but she was treated for a reflux related cough and constitutional asthma. In fact, she had non-infective tuberculosis which was still not active at this stage. If the correct diagnosis had been made she would have been treated immediately and would have been cured with no lasting damage.

Over the next two years she was reviewed at the defendant hospital, during which time she was treated for asthma. She was then discharged from further follow up and was referred back two years later with a history of increasing breathlessness and a chest x-ray showing progression of the left upper lobe lesion and active tuberculosis. She underwent bronchoscopy and alveolar lavage which confirmed the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis. She finally began treatment for TB three years and nine months after her first referral to the hospital.

As a result of the delay in her diagnosis and treatment, she suffered permanent damage to the left upper lobe of her lung. She has a lower tolerance for effort and is susceptible to respiratory tract infections. The avoidable advanced tuberculosis has left her 50% disabled from breathlessness and her disability is expected to increase with age. She has a risk of developing aspergillosis and requiring surgical lobectomy. She is unable to return to work and needs care, physiotherapy, specialist equipment and adaptations to her home. Her husband provides help with her care and domestic tasks.

Our client had mild pre-existing asthma which did not restrict her active lifestyle. In the court proceedings, the defendant admitted that there was a negligent delay in the diagnosis and treatment of her tuberculosis. Having initially argued that the majority of our client’s disability arose from her pre-existing asthma they later accepted the evidence of our medical expert that her disability arose from the damage to her lung that was caused by the delayed treatment of her TB.

Our client's family said:

“ We could not be more satisfied with the service we have received. Your empathy and ongoing support has been amazing. You’ve listened to our ranting and offered nothing but reassurance at times when you too must have felt just as frustrated. Obviously the outcome will not restore to her former self but it will certainly alleviate many of the stresses we’ve had regarding our family’s future.”

If you or a family member has been injured by a delay in diagnosis of a treatable disease, we may be able to help. Contact us on 0118 952 7219 or email for a free initial discussion