The medical negligence team compromised a case for a 42 year old mother of three children as a result of a failure by her GP and Cork University Maternity Hospital (“CUMH”) to refer her for appropriate prompt investigations resulting in a delayed diagnosis of bowel cancer which unfortunately had metastasised in the interim.
The medical records were extensive as the lady had other medical conditions and had numerous admissions and attendances at various Hospitals/Doctors. The lady’s bowel symptoms were noted during her various attendances/admissions. On analysing the extensive records, we were able to identify two specific attendances where there were overt symptoms of bowel cancer (to include the cardinal symptom of blood in the stool) - one with the GP on the 26th August 2011 and the second on the 12th September 2014 - when she was seen in CUMH and there was a description of blood in the lady’s stool. Unfortunately, the GP and CUMH failed to refer her for colonoscopy and the cancer was not diagnosed until the 22nd September 2016. Although her cancer was deemed to be suitable for surgical removal, unfortunately at surgery it was discovered that the cancer had spread locally and 2/17 lymph nodes were positive for metastatic disease. The lady was scheduled to have adjunct chemotherapy and although she had started the treatment, she was unable to tolerate the chemotherapy and she did not finish her regime. The medical experts agreed that the attendance with the GP on the 26th August 2011 and CUMH on the 12th September 2014 were fundamental breaches in her care and, if the cancer had been diagnosed following these attendances, there would have been no lymph node involvement and she would not have required chemotherapy. It appeared that the opportunity to treat and cure the cancer had been lost. Initially, her life expectancy was very poor. Subsequently, the lady had to have extra surveillance via colonoscopies, blood tests and scans. The psychological/psychiatric impact on the lady was immense. She feared for her life and that her children would be left without their mother. She lived under the cloud of cancer. The disease had spread to two lymph nodes, failed chemotherapy and she was very symptomatic. Therefore, her continuing symptoms were a constant worry that perhaps it was a reoccurrence of the cancer. Thus, the lady has never been allowed to forget or move on from the diagnosis of cancer. This had a severe psychological/psychiatric impact on all aspects of the lady’s life.
We were instructed late and applied to expedite the case to trial and the case was compromised for a six figure sum at mediation.
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