Mum given wrong diagnosis for terminal cancer compensated by hospital08 August 2011
Wrongly diagnosed with fatal cancer
A mother of two who was told she had just months to live after she was wrongly diagnosed with a fatal type of cancer has received damages for the emotional trauma caused.
The 45-year-old was told by a South West Hospital that she had an inoperable cancerous tumour on her liver and had just two months to two years to live.
In fact the growth was a haemangioma, the most common type of benign liver tumour.
The mum of two boys suffered breast cancer in 2004 and during a follow up appointment in March 2009 she mentioned she was suffering from cramp in her side.
She was given a CT scan and was later told the devastating news during an appointment she attended without support from family members.
She was told she would need a liver biopsy to confirm the results but this would only confirm what doctors already knew.
Told that she’d been diagnosed incorrectly
She went home and broke the terrible news to her family and it was almost another month before she was told that she’d been diagnosed incorrectly. During that time the family began researching alternative therapies and were even considering travelling to South Africa for treatment.
She underwent the biopsy in April 2009 and was told almost two weeks later that the growth was not cancerous. The biopsy was later confirmed by a further scan later that month.
The patient found it difficult to come to terms with what had happened and was referred to a counsellor where she was diagnosed with post traumatic stress. She needed therapy for three months and it was a full year before she recovered.
She said: “When I was told that I was suffering from an inoperable cancer I felt sheer sadness that I wouldn’t live to see my family grow up. I then began to look at treatment in other countries and I would fluctuate from overwhelming sense of doom to be being determined that I would find a treatment to prolong my life.
“When I was told that a mistake had been made my first thought was ‘thank God’ but I then began to worry they had got that wrong as well. I would relive the moment when they told me and I just wanted things to go back to normal, as they had been before the wrong diagnosis.
“This experience has changed me forever. I’m much less trusting of people in authority but on a positive note I’m now enjoying life with my family to the fullest as you never know what is around the corner.”
Contacted Thompsons Solicitors for advice
After she was given the all clear she contacted Thompsons Solicitors for advice. She wanted the hospital to acknowledge the trauma it has caused.
Thompsons argued that she should never have been given the diagnosis without first undergoing further procedures to rule out a benign liver tumour.
Thompsons also argued that given the serious nature of the initial diagnosis and the patient’s medical history the news should have been broken to her more sensitively and in the presence of support.
The NHS Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £6,000.
Amielia Campbell-Powell from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This doctor made a formal diagnosis of a very serious nature without carrying out thorough investigations. He effectively gave this patient a death sentence but hadn’t yet ruled out the alternatives. It is unforgiveable.
“For almost a month our client was forced to tell family and friends the devastating news. Meanwhile she had to find a way to come to terms with the fact that she would die within months. One cannot imagine the emtional turmoil she faced during this very difficult time.”
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