Furness General Hospital fails to diagnose cancer

David Dawson has recently settled another claim involving the failure by Furness General hospital to diagnose a head and neck cancer.  The hospital is part of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.  The claim was settled on behalf of a widow, whose husband died of squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx.  He had been treated in the ear, nose and throat department at Furness General Hospital for a number of years for recurrent throat problems.  He suffered from a hoarse voice, a painful throat and swallowing difficulties. Various investigations were carried out, including vocal cord biopsies and CT scans, but no firm diagnosis was made. In February 2013 examination by the surgeon found a lump on the side of his neck. He began to suffer from weight loss and continued to have a sore throat and swallowing difficulties.

Despite all of these suspicious symptoms the staff failed to diagnose the condition.  His condition deteriorated over a number of months and by Autumn 2013 he found it difficult to swallow solid foods.  The man and his wife were so concerned that the investigations at Furness General Hospital were inadequate, that they asked their GP for a referral for a second opinion.  In January 2014 he was seen at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and was immediately diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx.  Unfortunately the cancer was so far advanced by this time that palliative treatment began.  Sadly he passed away in June 2014.

David Dawson was instructed to bring a claim against the hospital.  Expert evidence and investigations confirmed that the man’s cancer ought to have been diagnosed in Spring 2013.  If that had happened his life would probably have been extended by another 2 to 3 years, and he would have benefitted from better palliative care.

David Dawson said “It is to the credit of the hospital that liability for the negligent treatment was admitted at an early stage. We often see cases of this type where the hospital will vigorously defend the claim but on this occasion the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay accepted its responsibility to compensate (my client) without forcing her to bring court action, and after some negotiation a significant five figure sum in compensation was agreed, with the trust also agreeing to pay legal costs.”

The story was reported in North West Evening Mail

Subsequent to the report appearing in the press, the hospital trust offered the following apology.  They had not apologised either to the man or his wife at any point previously.

Dr David Walker, medical director at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “On behalf of the Trust, I’d like to offer my sincere apologies to the family for the treatment that their loved one received at Furness General Hospital leading up to his sad death in 2014.”