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Missed breast cancer diagnosis leads to compensation payout

A woman has settled her medical negligence claim against Whipps Cross Hospital

Posted on 27 February 2017

A woman known only as Denise to protect her identity has received an apology and compensation after the Breast Clinic at Whipps Cross Hospital failed to diagnose her breast cancer.

Denise was represented by medical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day, Kirsten Wall.

When she was aged forty five, Denise underwent breast cancer investigations at Whipps Cross Hospital when she noticed two small lumps in her breast.

Despite the accepted screening procedure being a triple test combining a mammogram, ultrasound scan and fine need aspiration the doctors did not do this.  Instead, Denise was told that the fine needle aspiration was not necessary and advised that she did not have breast cancer.

In fact, Denise did have breast cancer.  Because of the Breast Clinic’s failures her cancer continued to grow and metastasised.  When it was eventually diagnosed the cancer had advanced to such a stage that it was incurable.

Denise now has to face the fact that her life will be shortened as a result of the Hospital’s negligence.

Before seeking legal advice, Denise went through the Hospital’s complaint process and, unhappy with the response received from Whipps Cross Hospital, referred the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.  During this process Denise obtained copies of upsetting emails written about her complaint by the Lead Breast Cancer Surgeon, Mr Peter Frecker.  

Denise was unconvinced by the Hospital’s denial that the delay in diagnosis of her breast cancer allowed it to spread and instructed Leigh Day to bring a claim.  

The Hospital’s Protocol Letter of Response admitted that they failed in their duty of care to Denise, but claimed it did not mean that her cancer was allowed to spread.  

Following three years of litigation, Whipps Cross Hospital admitted full liability.  Denise was paid a six figure settlement in compensation.

Denise said:

“It was always my intention that the Trust should be able to learn from my case and to highlight the need for women to ask for, be aware of and receive triple assessment if appropriate. I was saddened that it was only through the legal procedure that the Trust finally admitted negligence. I thank Leigh Day for their sensitive and compassionate handling of my case which helped me obtain the closure I so desperately needed.”

Kirsten said:

“Denise’s case is a stark reminder of the devastating impact clinical negligence can have on a patient and their family.  

“It was particularly disappointing that the Trust chose to fight the case for so long, but I am pleased that it was finally resolved successfully for Denise who has been tenacious in her desire to hold the Trust to account for their failings.”