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Surgeon who misdiagnosed Ruth Picardie’s breast cancer struck off

Ruth Picardie died 14 years ago when her cancer was misdiagnosed by a negligent surgeon

Image of breast MRI: istock

2 January 2012

Successful journalist Ruth Picardie was 33 and the mother of young twins when she died from breast cancer.  Fourteen years after her death the surgeon who misdiagnosed her cancer, Puvaneswary Markandoo, 64, has finally been struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council.  Specialist clinical negligence lawyer Frances Swaine successfully represented the family of Ruth and that of another young woman, Beth Wagstaff, who also died from breast cancer, in a medical negligence claim against Guy’s Hospital, London, where Markandoo worked.  Ruth was referred to Guy’s Hospital breast unit when she first discovered a lump in her breast and was given a fine needle biopsy and an ultrasound scan. In the analysis of the cells, the cytologist recommended that she have the lump removed because there were abnormal cells. However, when Ruth saw Dr Markandoo she was told that the lump was probably benign and that there was no point in surgical removal which would leave a scar. After giving birth to twins the lump had grown in size and an aggressive cancer was diagnosed from which Ruth died within a year.

An assessment panel of the GMC said that Markandoo lacked the competence of a newly-qualified doctor.  In October 2011 the MC heard evidence that Markandoo had made many errors in surgery at Barnsley Hospital where she had been working since 2005 and that more than 30 complaints about her work had been made to the relevant trust.

Speaking to the Guardian on 31st December 2011 Frances said that she and her clients tried to find where the doctor went after she left Guy’s, but had no success. “At the time of the settlements in both these cases, my client families were quite distressed by the lack of accountability that existed, enabling Dr Markandoo to simply disappear off to another hospital with sufficient references to enable her to bet another job.  Sadly, it seems that whatever steps there have been towards looking at doctors’ performance, there are still insufficient checks on the poor performers, enabling them to continue practising when they ought really to be suspended or re-educated”.

To speak to a member of the clinical negligence team please contact the clinical negligence new client enquiry team on 020 7650 1200 for a free initial consultation.

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