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Inappropriate cancer treatment claim results in compensation payment

A 68 year old man has settled a medical negligence claim against an NHS Trust after being provided with inappropriate treatment for his prostate cancer at a private clinic

Prostate cancer scan

28 July 2017

A 68 year old man, known only as Mr M to protect his identity, has settled a medical negligence claim against the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust after being provided with inappropriate treatment for his prostate cancer.

Mr M visited his GP to request a prostate test when he was 56, his father having died from the disease. The test showed that his PSA levels were raised (an indicator for prostate cancer) and he was referred to his local urology clinic.

Investigations undertaken at the clinic showed a probable T2 cancer in his prostate gland.  Different treatment options were discussed with Mr M, including his preferred choice radiotherapy. However, another treatment, High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound (HIFU), was also mentioned, and Mr M was taken to see Mr Paul Miller to discuss this further.

Mr Miller, who was a consultant urologist employed by the trust at the time, advised Mr M that should he opt for HIFU he would be able to return to work almost immediately (within a week of receiving the treatment).  He was not told about any possible side-effects, or that he may have to undergo hormonal treatment following HIFU.

Mr M accepted Mr Miller’s advice, and in February 2006 his care was transferred to Mr Miller’s private practice where he underwent HIFU.

Following the treatment, Mr M’s PSA levels continued to rise. He was put on Casodex, a hormonal therapy drug and asked to return for regular checks. Mr M’s PSA levels continued to fluctuate and he remained on hormonal therapy intermittently for around eight years. During this period Mr M suffered severe side effects from the hormonal treatment which included headaches, irritability, weight gain, breast enlargement and muscle loss.

In August 2014 Mr M was contacted by the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and informed of an investigation into Mr Paul Miller. Mr M subsequently attended the urology clinic and following a review of his case by a different consultant (and two further painful biopsies), Mr M was offered a course of radiotherapy.  He has not required the use of hormonal treatment since receiving radiotherapy.

Mr M was subsequently told by the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust that the HIFU treatment Mr Miller had recommended to him was inappropriate for a patient with the high level of PSA he had presented with.  

Mr M approached medical negligence solicitor Suzanne White to bring a claim against the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust after suffering many years of side effects from the inappropriate use of hormonal manipulation.

Suzanne argued that the trust had breached its duty of care towards Mr M by failing to advise him with reasonable skill and care, including failing to realise that Mr M was not a suitable candidate for HIFU, failing to explain the experimental nature of the treatment and its potential side effects, or failing to explain that if it did not cure the cancer Mr M would no longer be able to undergo surgery to treat this. There was also a failure to explain the potential need for hormonal therapy following HIFU, and the associated side effects of this treatment.

Suzanne further argued that if Mr M had undergone radiotherapy in 2006 it was likely that his prostate cancer would have been cured at that stage. 

During settlement discussions the trust confirmed that for the purposes of settling Mr M’s claim a sum of compensation would be paid to him with a full admission of liability.

Medical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day, Suzanne White, said:

“My client suffered years of unnecessary hormonal treatment which left him depressed and suffering from unpleasant side-effects.  He was also left having to undergo further treatment for a cancer which he believed had been cured.”

Matthew Westlake, solicitor assisting on Mr M’s case, said:

“When first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006, Mr M faced a daunting decision about treatment options.  He placed his trust in his treating physicians and accepted the advice that was passed down at that time. Had he been advised appropriately, he would have avoided many years of unnecessary and unpleasant treatment, which caused him and his family considerable distress.”

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