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Death from Delay In Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

D was aged 43 at the date of her death. She left a surviving partner and two children both under the age of 18. D attended her General Practitioner with a left breast lump who referred her to the local hospital. The hospital undertook a mammogram and D was reassured and she was discharged. Some six months later, D was referred back to the hospital as the lump was bigger. A subsequent mammogram and ultrasound were not reassuring and following a needle core biopsy, breast cancer with probable vascular invasion was diagnosed. Despite a subsequent mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, D developed liver metastases and underwent chemotherapy and palliative care prior to her death some 2 ½ years after the diagnosis.

Expert evidence revealed that the initial mammogram which was taken was not correctly reported and had it been correctly reported, a biopsy would have been performed and which would have lead to the diagnosis of breast cancer some 6 months earlier than it actually was. The tumor would have been of a smaller size such that D would have been cured of her disease. This was initially not accepted by the hospital but eventually through perseverance, we were able to secure an admission of liability with the hospital accepting that the diagnosis ought to have been made earlier but there still remained a dispute between both parties on what D’s outcome would have been had the diagnosis and treatment started some 6 months earlier.

It was evident that D would have suffered from breast cancer and required invasive and significant treatment but the medical evidence suggested that she would not have suffered a terminal disease but her life expectancy would have been compromised.

There were significant issues between the parties with regard to the amount of compensation which D’s family should be awarded to reflect the loss of services of a partner and mother.

Eventually, following negotiations between the parties, settlement terms were reached just before Trial with D’s family being awarded £166,000.00 and which was approved by the Court.