£30,000 recovered for failure to diagnose Hepatitis C

Our client, a 57 year old woman from Dover, Kent, began suffering with lethargy and a general feeling of being unwell around mid-2008.

Having attended on her GP in June 2008, some blood tests were performed and were reported to show (amongst other things) abnormal liver function tests. Unfortunately, her GP did not review / act upon those blood test results and nothing further was done at that stage.

There were then further failures to provide appropriate treatment despite numerous visits to her GP surgery, and despite further blood tests, and it was not until January 2013 that our client was eventually referred to a rheumatologist for further investigations. Those investigations resulted in a diagnosis of Hepatitis C infection being made in April 2013.

Unfortunately, the initial treatment was unsuccessful in resolving the infection. Our client then had to wait a couple of years before she was eligible for an alternative treatment, but that treatment was successful.

We obtained evidence from an expert GP (who confirmed it was a breach of duty to fail to refer my client for further investigations following the abnormal blood test results), and an expert hepatologist (who confirmed that upon investigation the correct diagnosis would have been made around 4.5 years sooner, that the impact on the liver would have been less, and that the initial treatment would likely have been successful in eradicating the Hepatitis C).

A letter of claim was submitted to the GP, which resulted in an admission of breach of duty (for failing to act upon the June 2008 blood test results) but a denial of causation (arguing that initial treatment would not have been successful in any event).

Following a conference with our hepatology expert, a detailed rebuttal letter was sent to the GP. After much delay, the Defendant’s Medical Defence Organisation eventually confirmed that they would not be arguing the causation point further, and made an offer of £30,000 to settle the claim on a full and final basis.

Given the absence of cirrhosis, and therefore any risk factors for long term complications, this offer was accepted.

Alex Tengroth, who had conduct of this case, said “it is regrettable that the Defendant did not act more speedily to acknowledge their liability for my client’s injuries, but both my client and I were very pleased with the ultimate outcome.”