Widow receives £125,000 for loss of husband due to hospital’s failure to report cancer test result

We have recently settled a case for the widow of a man whose death was caused by negligence on the part of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital Canterbury.

He was urgently referred by his GP due to a suspicion of possible penile cancer in November 2004. The rapid access referral scheme was used.

He was seen by the hospital later that month and underwent circumcision in December 2004.

It was then that an appalling error occurred.

Specifically, despite the histopathology from the operation showing a moderately differentiated squamous carcinoma, these findings was not passed on to the patient, nor to his GP.

In consequence, vital months were lost in treating the cancer, prior to May 2005, when the Trust finally communicated to him that the diagnosis had been made previously.

He then underwent extensive surgery and chemo/radiotherapy.

He showed incredible bravery and dignity at all stages.

Sadly, however, because of the delay, he was unable to be saved and died in March 2006.

The case was fully investigated and a detailed letter of claim sent in December last year.

It settled pursuant to part 36 negotiations in June this year.

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Stuart Bain recently sent the widow a formal letter of apology, on behalf of the Trust, indicating that the doctor who made the mistake has been placed under supervision and that procedures have been reviewed generally.

Nick Fairweather, who had conduct of the case throughout, commented:-

“This was truly a tragic case. My client and her husband had not long retired, and moved to the local area, when he contracted the cancer. The whole point of early surveillance and rapid access arrangements is to allow early treatment and save lives. The mistake that happened on this occasion was so fundamental as to be almost unbelievable. The hospital had a positive cancer test at a time when the patient could have been saved and failed to process it.

No amount of apology by the Trust now can ever bring my client’s husband back and she cannot forgive the Trust for what they have done, particularly the pain and suffering that they put her husband through, which he endured with such incredible courage.

The case was never about money and she hopes, more than anything, that the Trust has learned its lesson and put its house in order so that another family does not have to suffer in the same way in the future.”