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Widower receives six-figure settlement following wife’s delayed cancer diagnosis from military doctors

A widower has settled his claim for a six-figure sum for the death of his 41-year-old wife against a military healthcare provider and doctor for the delayed diagnosis of her cervical cancer.

Posted on 03 March 2022

Elizabeth was an officer in the military when she underwent a cervical screening while stationed abroad. Shortly after this she was posted back to the UK and heard no more about it and therefore, as many women do, assumed it was normal. In fact, her cervical screening sample had never reached the laboratory and was never analysed.

A year later, while attending an appointment with a General Practitioner at a Military Medical Centre in the UK, Elizabeth was asked about her last smear test. She explained about her screening while stationed abroad the previous year and how she assumed it must have been normal. The GP noted that there was no record of the screening in Elizabeth’s medical records. However, rather than tell her and take steps to determine why this was, he did nothing.

Elizabeth became pregnant within the following year and during ante natal checks she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

After her diagnosis, upset and feeling like she had been let down by the military, to whom she had dedicated her career, Elizabeth instructed Leigh Day partner Kirsten Wall to investigate a clinical negligence case.

The claim was pursued against the organisation responsible for military healthcare overseas for their failure to ensure the proper transportation and analysis of the cervical smear sample.

In addition, a claim was brought against the UK based military GP for failing to inform Elizabeth that there was no record of her screening and arrange for her to have one to ensure compliance with the three-year screening programme.

Sadly, despite extensive treatment, Elizabeth died aged 41.

As Elizabeth died part way through the case, the claim was taken over by her husband who wishes to remain anonymous.

Elizabeth’s claim was settled successfully two days before a fully contested trial was due to commence at the High Court in London, with Elizabeth’s husband and young child receiving a substantial award of damages.

Elizabeth’s husband said:

“I can’t thank Kirsten and her team from Leigh Day enough. They believed Elizabeth had a case from the outset and were supportive, empathetic and professional throughout. Their fortitude and forbearance during a lengthy and difficult process was inspiring and humbling. Thank you.”

Kirsten Wall said:

“It is desperately sad that Elizabeth died at 41 years old with a young child. While clearly no amount of money can come close to compensating Elizabeth’s husband and child for her death, I am pleased that a successful conclusion was reached in the case Elizabeth started and which we both believed in.

This case highlights how important the cervical screening programme is, if run properly, at saving lives and how every single medical professional involved in its provision have a crucial role in its success.”

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Kirsten Wall

Kirsten specialises exclusively in medical negligence claims

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