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Prostate cancer sufferer receives compensation

Medway Hospital has paid a substantial sum to a Leigh Day client suffering from prostate cancer. He was represented by clinical negligence partner Nicola Wainwright

Photo: istock

12 June 2008

Nicola Wainwright, Partner in the clinical negligence department of Leigh Day & Co has successfully obtained a significant sum of compensation for a client who was badly let down by Medway Hospital in Kent whilst receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

In deciding the best treatment for cancer a doctor should take into account the grade and stage of the cancer. This involves carrying out a physical examination, a PSA test and taking a biopsy. It can also include an MRI scan. The reason this assessment is necessary is because most doctors agree that surgery to remove the prostate will only be successful if the cancer has not spread outside the prostate gland. Therefore, surgical removal of the prostate, known as radical prostatectomy, can only cure a patient of cancer if the cancer is confined to the prostate. If it is not then surgery alone will not cure the patient and he will require alternative treatment such as radiotherapy or hormonal therapy.

Our client was, unfortunately, diagnosed with prostate cancer and referred to Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent for the appropriate treatment. Our case was that the doctors failed to carry out the appropriate assessment of the cancer. Although they carried out a physical examination they made no attempt to establish the stage of the cancer and although they carried out a biopsy the biopsy sample did not contain enough cells for them to grade the cancer. In those circumstances we say that the doctors could only guess at the best form of treatment our client and they then advised him to undergo surgery.

Our client was unaware that the doctors had not carried out the relevant assessment and so accepted their advice. In fact, at the point they advised him the doctors had no idea whether the cancer was confined to the prostate. Indeed, if they had carried out the appropriate assessment we say that they would have known that there was a significant risk that the cancer had already spread to other parts of his body so surgery to remove the prostate gland would not be effective.

However, because the doctors had not done the appropriate assessment they proceeded to remove his prostate. Once the prostate had been removed histology revealed that it had already spread and therefore our client subsequently required further treatment including radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and an orchidectomy. In effect, the surgery he had undergone was completely unnecessary as it did not cure his cancer and moreover it delayed him receiving the appropriate treatment.

To make matters worse following the surgery because removal of the prostate affects the drainage of urine from the bladder the hospital inserted a catheter so that the urine could drain out. We alleged that our client’s catheter was put in the wrong place causing the wound left by the removal of the prostate to break down. During the further procedure our client’s bladder wall also collapsed. As a result our client was left with urinary and faecal incontinence requiring the permanent use of pads and a colostomy.

Although the Defendant hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, continued to deny that they were negligent throughout the claim, following a full investigation and thorough investigation by us they offered our client the sum of £130,000 compensation.

Sadly, shortly after he had received this compensation our client passed away as a result of surgical complications following a further procedure, which we say would probably not have been necessary if it were not for Medway Maritime’s Hospital’s alleged negligence.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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Clinical negligence

Who worked on this case

Nicola Wainwright