£700,000 settlement for cervical cancer after hospital failed to follow up abnormal smear and biopsy

£700,000 settlement for cervical cancer after hospital failed to follow up abnormal smear and biopsy

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence solicitors have secured a £700,000 settlement for a woman who developed cervical cancer when an NHS hospital failed to follow up abnormal results from her smear and biopsy tests.

Abnormal smear test

Her GP referred her to hospital following a smear test which revealed borderline changes and high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV). A colposcopy examination of her cervix showed minor abnormalities and after further colposcopy, smear test and biopsies were carried out at a follow appointment, she was told that she would only be contacted for treatment if her awaited biopsy results gave rise to any concern. A few days later, the test results revealed mild dyskaryosis, HPV and grade 1 CIN (the lowest level of pre-cancerous change) in the squamous cells of the cervix. Grade 1 CIN is a cause for concern and should always be followed up but treatment, if required at all, is usually simple and successful. If our client had been offered treatment when the test results revealed the CIN, it is likely that she would have avoided cervical cancer.

Failure to treat after abnormal biopsy

When the biopsy result was reported, the colposcopy nurse wrote a letter to our client, inviting her for cryocautery treatment. Our client didn’t receive the letter and, contrary to the hospital’s own colposcopy follow up guidelines, no further attempt was made by the hospital to contact her. As our client had been told that she would only be contacted if she needed treatment, on hearing nothing she assumed that all was well and she remained unaware that she needed treatment to avoid developing cervical cancer. By the time she began to experience symptoms of vaginal bleeding during her pregnancy over a year later, investigations revealed that she had a large mass in her cervix which was confirmed on biopsy to be squamous cell carcinoma.

Impact of delayed treatment

She required an early caesarean section to deliver her baby at 32 weeks and then underwent repeated treatments with chemo-radiotherapy which eventually cleared the cancer. During this treatment she was unable to look after her baby and children. She still needs help with child care and with household tasks. She suffered side effects of her treatment including nausea, dizziness, aching, exhaustion, swollen hands and feet, impaired sleep, diarrhoea, stomach pains, hair thinning, bowel and bladder frequency and dry skin. She continues to experience pain and fatigue and is now infertile, has suffered premature menopause, and has distressing personal difficulties including impaired urinary and bowel function. She has been affected psychologically and suffers from depression, high levels of anxiety and disturbed sleep. There is a small risk of a recurrence of the cancer.

Compensation claim

Boyes Turner’s cervical cancer specialists pursued our client’s claim against the defendant hospital which admitted liability for our client’s injury. Judgment was entered and interim payments totalling £50,000 were obtained to alleviate our client’s financial hardship and pay for ongoing therapies and treatment. We then worked with our client and our experts to assess the value of the claim before entering into negotiations with the defendant which resulted in a settlement of £700,000 for our client.

 

The service was personal, professional and considered. I was treated so kindly and in the end I knew that not only had I found the right organisation but also the right person.

Boyes Turner client

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