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Delayed diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma results in clinical negligence compensation for client

Cancer claims solicitor Kirsten Wall successfully concludes case for previously fit young woman

Photo of chest xray:istock

28 May 2012

In February 2007, Maria, who was previously very fit, began experiencing pain in the right side of her chest.  The pain became worse when she inhaled deeply and so she sought the advice of an NHS Walk-in Centre who advised her that there was nothing to be concerned about.

By August 2007, Maria was finding it difficult to keep up with her usual exercise regime and found that the pain was now spreading from her chest and into her right arm.  Maria’s GP advised her that she was experiencing muscular pain and suggested she arrange some physiotherapy sessions. 

The physiotherapy did  not easing Maria’s chest and arm pain and so, after the pain became unbearable during a Valentine’s Day meal with her boyfriend, she attended the A&E Department at The Princess Royal University Hospital.  A chest x-ray was performed, which was reviewed by the Registrar in the A&E Department, not a Radiologist, who concluded that it was entirely normal.  Maria was told that she was simply suffering from muscular pain and was sent home.

Maria continued with her physiotherapy sessions in an attempt to relieve the terrible chest pain she was experiencing. 

In May 2008, Maria began suffering from drenching night sweats.  She also started experiencing extreme shooting pains in her neck when she had even a small sip of alcohol. 

In June 2008, Maria had lost a significant amount of weight and had dropped from a dress size 12 to a 6.  She sought the advice of her GP who examined her and concluded that nothing serious was wrong.

Maria’s health continued to deteriorate and in August 2008 she returned to her GP and insisted on being referred to hospital.  The GP agreed and a chest x-ray was performed at The Princess Royal University Hospital on 15 August 2008.  The chest x-ray was reported as showing a “very large” mass surrounding Maria’s heart and in her right lung, which appeared to be evidence of lymphoma.

The chest x-ray that Maria had undergone in the A&E Department on 14 February 2008 was reviewed again for comparison and it was noted that the mass could, in fact, be seen in the right side of her chest at this time but had been missed by the Registrar.  As no routine Radiology review of the x-ray had taken place, the opportunity to identify this mistake had been missed.

Maria was diagnosed as suffering from Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Because of the size of the lymphoma, and because it was enveloping her heart, Maria was immediately admitted to stabilise her condition.  She then had to undergo eight cycles of chemotherapy and, because the lymphoma was still present after the chemotherapy, she then had to undergo radiotherapy treatment.

By the time Maria’s diagnosis had been made, the lymphoma was so advanced there was no time to delay the chemotherapy to allow her to undergo fertility saving measures.

The Princess Royal University Hospital admitted negligence in failing to diagnose Maria’s lymphoma on 14 February 2008 when it was visible on the chest x-ray.  This delay in diagnosis of six months allowed the lymphoma to advance to Stage IV – the most advanced stage.

Maria received damages of £87,500.

Maria said: 

“My representative Kirsten Wall was professional and sympathetic throughout and made the entire process so much easier by always making the time to speak with me for any query big or small and taking the time to translate the legal terminology to simple understandable terms. I would strongly recommend to anyone with a similar case to not feel daunted at the prospect of having to deal with a stressful and upsetting legal battle as Leigh Day & Co took that stress away from me and won my case for me”.

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