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Widower paid six figure sum following death of wife from uterine cancer

Cancer missed by GP despite numerous requests for a referral


20 April 2017

The widower of a woman called Jan has settled a medical negligence claim on her behalf following her death from uterine cancer at the age of 62.

Jan was 59 years old when she began to experience post-menopausal bleeding.  She attended her Notting Hill based General Practitioner because she was concerned about cancer and asked for a smear test to be performed.  She was advised that she was not due a smear test and told not to worry. 

Jan returned to her GP because the bleeding persisted and was diagnosed with atrophic vaginitis and prescribed oestrogen cream.

Jan visited her GP again, this time specifically asking if she should be referred to a gynaecologist.  Her GP told her this was unnecessary despite the bleeding getting worse. 

Shortly after this appointment, Jan flew to the US to care for her mother who had suffered a heart attack.  Just a couple of days later, Jan suffered a major haemorrhage.

She telephoned her GP in London who advised her to seek urgent medical advice from a local gynaecologist. 

Jan did so and was diagnosed with stage IV uterine cancer.  She was told that it was incurable and that she had only two years to live.

Jan instructed medical negligence lawyer Kirsten Wall to pursue her claim against her GP but died before settlement could be achieved.  Her claim was taken over by her husband.

During the course of the claim, Jan’s GP admitted that she had failed to appreciate the significance of Jan’s symptoms and refer her for a review by a gynaecologist, which would have resulted in the cancer being diagnosed nine months earlier. 

However, the GP’s legal team argued that this made no difference to the stage of Jan’s cancer, or the fact that it was going to result in her untimely death.  Despite this, Jan’s GP paid out substantial damages of a six figure sum. 

Jan’s husband said:

“Everyone knows that the earlier the better with a cancer diagnosis.  I feel very clear in my mind that the doctor’s negligence in not listening to Jan’s concerns caused her death, and that is why they paid out such substantial damages.  Kirsten pursued Jan’s wish for recompense with vigour and continued as Jan had wished after her death”. 

Medical negligence lawyer at Leigh Day Kirsten Wall said:

“It was incredibly sad to lose a client part way through her claim.  However, Jan was very clear in her instructions before she died and I am glad to have been able to complete her wishes and settle her case successfully.  It is just upsetting that she was not here to see it.”

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