Date Published: 24 March 2009

Field Fisher Waterhouse wins substantial compensation for patient after health specialists repeatedly failed to diagnose

Law firm, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP has won substantial compensation for Mrs X, a 71 year old from Chingford in London, now living in Brighton, who developed myeloma, a form of cancer affecting the bone marrow, after she repeatedly sought health specialists’ help but was not given appropriate treatment. Mrs X will receive £400,000 to compensate her, after it was agreed that her GP should have referred her to hospital more quickly and the hospital should have taken swifter measures to treat her. The compensation will cover all of the costs that Mrs X has incurred to date together with the recommendations for future care, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Mrs X had experienced serious upper back pain since 2002 and had contacted her GP to investigate the problem. He conducted an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test and, in spite of an abnormal reading, failed to recommend any investigations into the cause of such a reading. Mrs X’s situation worsened over the next year and a further ESR test was conducted in August 2003, revealing an even more abnormal result. In spite of this, the result did not alarm the GP, who failed to refer her to hospital for further assessments, instead putting Mrs X’s ongoing symptoms down to osteoarthritis, which would not lead to an abnormal ESR reading.

In time, Mrs X lost useful function of her left arm and she started experiencing paraesthesia in her lower limbs, resulting in her sometimes tripping over her own feet. Eventually her GP referred her for a non urgent MRI scan.

In the meantime, Mrs X’s symptoms continued to deteriorate, so much so that she referred herself to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, London, where she was seen by a junior doctor who failed to ask for senior review and failed to request an urgent, or any, MRI scan.

Prior to any review by senior staff, Mrs X’s symptoms markedly deteriorated further in that she suffered a pathological fracture to her left arm whilst trying to mobilise to use the toilet unaided and suffered reduced sensation in both her legs.

Following senior review some four days after admission, Mrs X was transferred to St Bartholomews Hospital in London where she was finally diagnosed as suffering from myeloma at which point she started to undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.

The Defendants, Mrs X’s GP and Whipps Cross Hospital initially denied liability, however at the time expert evidence on breach of duty and causation was due to be exchanged, with reports from a GP expert, an orthopaedic surgeon and an oncologist, both Defendants admitted liability and Judgement was entered for the Claimant against both Defendants.

Following exchange of further evidence on condition and prognosis from experts in the fields of oncology, neurosurgery, care, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, the claim settled for the sum of £400,000, ten days before the trial was due to begin.

Mark Bowman, medical negligence lawyer at Field Fisher Waterhouse, was instructed by Mrs X to represent her in the claim.

After the case, Mrs X’s daughter said:

" Mark was sensitive to our need to keep an emotional distance from the claim handling. I felt we could be hands off because I was completely confident that instructions were being followed and we were not at risk in costs."

Mark Bowman, clinical negligence lawyer at Field Fisher Waterhouse said:

This was a particularly tricky case, involving experts from a number of disciplines and more than one Defendant. I am very happy with the outcome. I am glad that Mrs X, a stoic and strong-minded woman, will now receive the compensation that she deserves and will be able to rest assured that her needs will be met for the rest of her life.



Source: Field Fisher Waterhouse (Press Release).

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