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Medical negligence - Barry's story

Negligent surgery
The radiologist insisted that the tumour was invasive, and without further investigations, instead of radiography, extensive surgery was done on Barry's neck – Leigh Day
Barry Merriman was a specialist panel beater working on prestige motor cars including Ferraris. 

In November 2009 Barry noticed that his voice had become hoarse and he was referred to ear, nose and throat specialists at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, by his GP.

A biopsy and scan was carried out on Barry.  All the findings suggested non-invasive cancer of the vocal cords.

On 3 February 2010 the consultant explained to Barry that the likely treatment would be radiotherapy.  But at a multi-disciplinary team meeting a week later a consultant radiologist said the condition was much more serious because there was definite evidence of invasion of the thyroid cartilage.

The radiologist insisted that the tumour was invasive and extensive surgery was done on Barry's neck, including the removal of his larynx and a tracheostomy, without any further investigations. Barry was left with a permanent opening in his neck.

Following the surgery the tissue specimens were examined by a pathologist who found that the cancer was not all all invasive. Nine lymph nodes that were removed during the operation were also examined. None of them showed any evidence of the cancer spreading. The removal of Barry's larynx had been totally unnecessary.

If Barry had received radiotherapy his cancer would almost certainly have been cured, with no more than temporary hoarseness.

Instead he has been left without normal speech and will need reconstruction of his voice.  His swallowing is impaired, and he is fearful of drowning by aspiration through the opening in his neck.  He will never work again and his social life has been seriously curtailed.

Barry's solicitor, Russell Levy, head of the clinical negligence team is seeking full compensation for him.

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