£800,000 compensation settlement recovered following a delay in diagnosis of cervical cancer

Our client, a young woman, developed symptoms, including vaginal bleeding. She attended her GP surgery for her cervical smear test and reported her symptoms including discharge and cramping pains. Despite the GP recording a history suggestive of invasive cervical cancer, she failed to refer our client, Ms V, to a specialist gynaecological clinic.

There was a further GP appointment a few weeks later and again no referral was made. The smear test was reported approximately two and half months later. This suggested that there were borderline changes and that other investigations should be arranged. The GP did not act on this and neither did the GP arrange a referral following yet another attendance. Our client was eventually referred to the gynaecology clinic by another GP at the same practice, some three and a half months after the smear test was performed.

Unfortunately Ms V then had to wait another two months for the hospital appointment as the referral had been marked non-urgent and sent to a general gynaecology clinic, rather than the coloscopy clinic. Ms L was then referred on to the correct clinic but the appointment was for another two months’ time.

Before Ms V could attend the appointment, she collapsed at home after heavy bleeding. She was seen in the A&E department at hospital and a tumour was located. She was diagnosed with stage IIB cervical cancer.

By the time of the diagnosis, the tumour was too extensive for surgery and Ms V instead required intensive chemo-radiotherapy which destroyed her ovaries and required her to undergo HRT treatment. The chemo-radiotherapy also caused her to suffer with debilitating pelvic pain, necessitating the use of morphine. The pain is now thought to be a permanent problem for which there is no further treatment available. As a result of the negligence, Ms V has also been severely affected psychologically. Her physical and psychological injuries mean that she will be unable to work again. 

There were two defendants in this case; the GP and the hospital Trust. Expert evidence was obtained from a GP expert; a gynaecological oncologist and a consultant cytopathologist. After serving a formal letter of claim, both defendants denied liability and it then became necessary to issue and serve Court proceedings. The defendants continued to deny liability and in accordance with Court directions, the parties served their expert evidence on each other. It then became clear that the only substantial disagreement related to Ms V’s prognosis. Judgment was then entered for Ms V, meaning that she had won her case but that the valuation was still to be determined.

In order to value Ms V’s delay in diagnosis claim, further expert evidence was obtained from a care expert, a pain management expert, a consultant psychiatrist, a neurologist and a neuropsychologist. Once her prognosis became clearer the parties met to negotiate a settlement and an agreement of £800,000 compensation was reached just a few months before trial.

The service provided was first class. You were understanding, caring and professional

David Froud

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