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Cancer (delay in diagnosis and treatment)

Cancer claims are amongst the most challenging claims handled.

Claims predominantly relate to apparent delay in appropriate investigation and hence identification of the patient’s cancer. Claims often allege that the resulting delay has caused harm (in some cases with tragic consequences) both through a delay in commencement of treatment to counter the cancer and also through the cancer’s progression in the period before such treatment is begun.

To bring a claim it is not necessary that the cancer has already recurred. Claims have (and can) be brought on the basis that because of the delay in treatment and consequent progress of their cancer, the patient has an increased chance of recurrence, even though this has not occurred yet.

Although not always the case, cancer claims generally relate to care provided by GPs, radiologists and pathology services. There are, for example, well established principles a general practitioner should follow with a patient presenting with breast lumps, the so called ‘triple test’ etc.

Unfortunately claims also have arisen in relation to treatment once cancer is identified in terms of the form and manner of treatment provided.

Through our experience in such claims we have established contacts with independent GPs, radiologists, surgeons and oncologists able to assist in handling such claims and gathering appropriate evidence as to the quality of the care provided, how the position would have altered had earlier intervention occurred etc.

In the most tragic of such cases, when a client has only a relatively short period to live, these contacts and knowledge of the key questions to focus upon, allows us to expedite claims appropriately.

Below are descriptions of some of the types of cancer case we have pursued in the past and are handling at present:

  • Failure to investigate loss of taste sensation (lung cancer)
  • Failure to arrange ultrasound investigation of testicular lump
  • Failure to arrange triple test assessment of breast lump (repeated..)
  • Failure to inform patients of radiological recommendations of further investigation of clinically suspicous breast lump
  • Failure to recommend core biopsy of breast lump
  • Failure to investigate raised PSA
  • Negligent performance of pathology analysis re endometrial cancer
  • Failure to appropriately investigate abnormal rectal bleeding
  • Failure to properly surgically excise thyroid cancer
  • Failure to complete appropriate post-surgical imaging to ensure complete removal of brain tumour
  • Negligent administration of chemotherapy drugs
  • Failure to diagnose and treat cancer of the nasal septum
  • Failure to diagnose and treat cancer of the floor of the mouth
  • Radiation therapy to the wrong eye
  • Delay in diagnosis of bowel cancer
  • Negligent failure to correctly perform colonoscopy, resulting in delay in diagnosis of rectal cancer
  • Negligent misread of pap smear
  • GP surgery’s failure to contact patient to inform of presence of breast cancer on FNA