Month: October 2020

Staying safe this Halloween!

With all the excitement Halloween brings it’s also important to remember that it can be a scary time for parents for all the wrong reasons – after all it is the most dangerous holiday for children. 

We know, Halloween this year is going to look a lot different. With trick or treating under review and restrictions on meeting with others constantly changing, it may seem like the safety concerns associated with the spooky season are also eliminated.

But, it’s important to remember the risks and be extra careful this year – plan your activities with caution and ensure your Halloween doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Here are our top tips for pedestrians, parents and home-owners on the accidents to watch out for this October:

 

IS TRICK OR TREATING BANNED IN THE UK THIS YEAR?

Trick or treating this year is banned in areas under local lockdown, as the activity would still count as mixing households – which is against the rules in most areas under local restrictions. This could mean up to 20 million Brits will be unable to take part in the notorious Halloween tradition.

People living outside these zones can take to the streets to scare and scour for treats, but they have to adhere to the ‘rule of six’ – in England this rule includes children. Social distancing and hygiene measures also have to remain high – such as standing well back when knocking on doors, regularly sanitizing hands and opting for individually wrapped sweets, so children aren’t touching something that others may have also touched while delving in for their treats, to then put straight in their mouths.

 

NEW WAYS TO CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN DURING COVID-19

Don’t worry, Halloween is not dead and gone. With trick or treating ‘killed off’ for so many of us, parents determined not to disappoint their little ones are carving up a range of innovative ideas to keep the excitement going.

One of the most popular ideas for children to keep the spirit alive is to take part in ‘scare trails’ or ‘pumpkin scavenger hunts’ – this could be scouring the streets in the dark to count pumpkins or even searching for the best decorated ‘haunted houses’. Many are also talking about communities coming together and hosting Halloween parties in their gardens, so children can show off their costumes for neighbours and passers-by to enjoy.

Households may also be opting for reverse trick or treating by dropping off pre-packed sweets on neighbours’ doorsteps to give them a special spooky surprise.

What seems sure is that whatever lockdown zone you are in this year, we will still see a large number of children out and about past dark to celebrate the spooky season.

 

 

ROAD SAFETY AT HALLOWEEN

October 31st sees a higher number of UK children aged 10 and under involved in road traffic accidents than at any point during the four-week period around Halloween.

Road traffic accident data by Churchill Car Insurance revealed that road traffic incidents increase by 75% compared to the rest of the month, with 49 child pedestrians involved in accidents on Halloween. Nearly twice the average number for the two weeks before and after October 31st.

The analysis also revealed that 47% of road traffic accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween take place between 6pm and 9pm. On a normal day this would be 18%.

The combination of excitable children on the roads, poor lighting and dark costumes mean that drivers have to be extra vigilant.

 

TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE ON THE ROADS THIS HALLOWEEN:

  1. Plan a route in advance. This will stop you from getting lost and help you stay on well-lit roads and paths.
  2. Choose your costumes carefully. Don’t opt for bulky costumes which could impair hearing, vision or mobility. Dressing your child in fluorescent clothes or accessories as part of their outfit will also increase visibility on dark streets and alert drivers to their presence.
  3. Stop, Look, Listen. It can be common for children to get a little over excited at Halloween and forget the basic rules of the road. Remind them! Tell them not to zig-zag across the roads either. Stay on one side of the road and complete the stretch before safely crossing over to the other side.

BEWARE THE DECORATIONS ON YOUR HAUNTED HOUSE

With the nation determined to keep the Halloween fun alive this year, we predict more of us will be going all out to ensure those out on ‘scare trails’ are treated to some spooktacular sights.

We can’t wait to see some of the fantastic house displays across the country, but if you are planning to put on a spooky spectacle, ensure you keep it safe, as you are liable for any injuries which will occur on your property.

 

TOP TIPS FOR SAFELY DECORATING YOUR HOME THIS HALLOWEEN

  1. Don’t use open flame or candles. If costumes brush across these it can be a serious fire hazard. Flameless candles, light sticks and flashlights can provide a safe and equally impactful alternative.
  2. Remove obstacles from driveways. Ensure walkways are clear to avoid any nasty trips, slips or falls.
  3. Keep pets indoors. No matter how lovable and well trained they are, Halloween can cause them stress and anxiety which may cause them to act out of character.

We want everyone to have a Happy Halloween this year more than ever! To make sure you make the most of the night, remind yourself and your children of the safety guidelines to avoid your Halloween becoming a nightmare.

If you find yourself or a member of your family involved in an accident, as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact our expert team of personal injury solicitors for free, no obligation advice: 0800 880 7870 oinfo@hampsonhughes.co.uk

£1.25m awarded to mum-of-five after three doctors missed cervical cancer signs

A mother-of-five was awarded £1.25 million in compensation after three separate doctors failed to spot signs of cervical cancer, leading to a significant delay in her diagnosis.

Lisa, from Liverpool, is now likely to suffer renal failure within the next few years as her kidneys struggle to cope with the complications caused by the cancer.

The 40-year-old first complained to her GP of continuous vaginal bleeding in 2011 following the birth of her youngest child, reporting heavy bleeding between periods.

She was prescribed with the contraceptive pill which initially reduced the rate of bleeding; however, it returned after she stopped taking it, prompting her to go back to her GP practice, where she also discussed abdominal pains she had been experiencing.

Doctors recorded subsequent examinations and blood tests as normal, while fibroids discovered during an ultrasound scan were blamed for the bleeding.

However, Lisa’s problem worsened as she noticed clots the ‘size of a fist’, for which she was given medication specifically designed to treat heavy periods. She also began suffering from severe headaches, blurred vision and nausea, with doctors diagnosing anaemia and, as such, advising iron tablets.

A routine smear in April 2012 was unable to go ahead due to Lisa’s bleeding, with ‘insufficient cellular material for analysis’ being recorded.

Following a subsequent examination by a consultant gynaecologist – more than a year after her first appointment with her GP – a 6cm cervical tumour was found and Lisa was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer.

Lisa, who has recently also become a grandmother, said: “After I gave birth to my son, I was constantly bleeding – having had four children already, I knew that a heavy period straight after birth was normal, but this went on longer and I knew it wasn’t right.

“But when I spoke to my doctor and explained it had been happening for a while, I was simply put on the pill in the hope that this would help. While it did ease the bleeding at first, it started back up as soon as I stopped taking it. I kept going back to my GP, seeing three different doctors there in total, on many occasions. I just wasn’t being listened too.”

“Each time, I was advised to either change my pill, given treatment for heavy periods or told I had fibroids – but at no point was cancer even mentioned.

“So to be told I had stage 4 cervical cancer after complaining of these issues for so long, was absolutely devastating. Telling my children was the worst part – no mother wants to have to tell their kids that she’s battling this horrible disease and may not be around to see them grow up and go on to have their own families.”

Following her diagnosis, Lisa underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy; however, she later developed severe pelvic pain and urinary tract problems.

Lisa, who now has two nephrostomies to help her kidneys function properly, instructed our medical negligence team to take action against the health experts who failed her.

In September 2020, we settled her case for a total of £1.25 million.

Following a seven-year long legal case against GPs, who at the time practised at Aintree Road Medical Centre, Lisa’s medical care and treatment was deemed as negligent.

Matters highlighted as negligent included Lisa’s history being wrongly recorded, with the doctor noting she had experienced heavy periods for just four months; failure to perform pelvic and speculum examinations of Lisa’s cervix; and failure to take note of Lisa experiencing irregular bleeding.

It was also noted that doctors wrongly assumed the problems were caused by fibroids and incorrectly treated the symptoms with medication for heavy periods, rather than investigating further. Crucially, the case recorded that Lisa was not referred to a specialist within two weeks, as per strict NHS guidelines.

Had protocol been followed, it is believed that Lisa would have undergone a hysterectomy and would not have been forced to have chemo radiotherapy. Court documents state that the cancer would have been caught at an earlier stage, leading to a full recovery with little chance of complications.

Carlos Lopez, Director of Clinical Negligence at Hampson Hughes, said: “Lisa was significantly let down by the experts she trusted the most, with her complaints of pain and discomfort being misdiagnosed and wrongly treated.

“It is simply unacceptable that, due to the failings and sheer incompetence of a handful of doctors, she and her family have experienced such heartache, anger and sadness. These doctors were simply not listening to their patient.

“Of course, no amount of money will be enough to take away the pain, or change what happened, but it was important to her that she be able to provide for her children for their future.

“She was also incredibly passionate about holding those who failed her to account, raising awareness of cervical cancer and helping to ensure that no one else has to go through what she has.”

If you feel you’ve experienced medical negligence, please contact the Hampson Hughes clinical negligence team today to see if you are eligible to claim compensation, call us free on 0800 880 7868, or email us at info@hampsonhughes.com

How to select a spooky – and safe – costume this Halloween!

Halloween is a magical time for children to enjoy some spirited scares and fiendish fun, but it can turn into a real nightmare if you encounter dangerous costume disasters.

This year Halloween is going to look very different but, however you’re planning to get into the spirit, whether it’s fun at home, a virtual party or a scare trail around the neighbourhood, one thing for sure is that we’ll still be dressing up our little witches, ghosts and ghouls to ensure they have a spooktacular time!

Before you decide on their costumes and cosmetics it’s important to watch out for a few simple safety precautions to prevent burns, falls and laceration injuries, as Halloween fancy dress has been implicated in a number of serious accidents. 

In 2014, TV presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter, Matilda, suffered severe burns when her costume caught fire. This terrible incident brought the issue of children’s fancy dress safety into the spotlight.

Over the last few years, there have been a number of concerning reports about how quickly a child’s Halloween costume can catch fire. In response to this, the British Retail Consortium introduced flammability measures which have been adopted by thousands of retailers. The measures form a voluntary code of practice for retailers to follow to ensure costumes have a maximum burn rate three times slower than the current requirements.

Here are our top tips on what to look for when selecting a Halloween costume:

  • Check for the CE mark on the label to ensure the costume has been tested for flammability.
  • Make sure it says “flame-resistant” and avoid any outfits that say “keep away from fire”.
  • Avoid big, baggy outfits or large capes to help minimise the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources.
  • Brightly coloured or florescent costumes or accessories are a great way to ensure clear visibility to motorists.
  • Get costumes that fit well. Costumes which drag on the floor are more likely to cause slips, trips and falls and could be a fire hazard.
  • Think carefully about masks and ensure they have eye holes large enough to ensure visibility is not impaired.
  • Check the ratings and reviews to see what feedback other customers have provided.
  • Avoid cheap cosmetics or face paints as they can cause serious allergic reactions, and ensure to read the instructions of any cosmetics you do buy carefully. Always perform a patch test and if you notice any adverse symptoms, such as itching or burning, immediately remove it and seek medical advice.
  • Buy from a trusted retailer. The retailer is responsible for the safety of the costumes they sell.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU WATCH OUT FOR IF YOU’RE CREATING A COSTUME AT HOME?

With many of us at home this Halloween, it may be tempting to get artistic and design our own homemade creations for the kids. But, be aware that homemade fancy dress costumes have not been tested to the same flammability standards and may ignite easily and burn quicker than CE approved outfits.

That’s not to say you can’t get crafty this Halloween, but be careful with the materials you choose to ensure safety remains the top priority:

  • Use inherently flame-resistant fabrics, such as polyester and nylon. These materials will resist burning if exposed to an open flame.
  • Avoid using cotton and cotton/polyester blends as these materials can be the most flammable.
  • They can provide the perfect finishing touch to homemade costumes, but avoid accessories such as cotton balls, too much glitter or netted material as these are highly flammable.

Don’t get tricked this Halloween into buying or creating a costume which is unsafe. Be cautious and kit out the kids in some scary, but safe, costumes which will ensure they have a happy and safe Halloween.

 

If you or a loved one has been injured or fallen ill due to a faulty or defective product, contact our expert team of personal injury solicitors for free, no obligation advice: 0800 880 7870 or info@hampsonhughes.co.uk.

£44,000 awarded to workman after a foreign body was left in his abdomen post-surgery

A workman from Blackpool, suffered severe injuries when he slipped in his work van and fell onto a drill bit, which penetrated his lower abdomen.

After the event in 2016, he was given a CT scan which confirmed the foreign body, and was subsequently admitted to surgery to remove it.

Shortly after his discharge from hospital, he began to feel unwell and attended a walk-in-centre in Blackpool, where he was advised the wound was likely infected and referred to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

He underwent further surgery to washout the abdomen, however when he came round from the procedure he saw that in place of his one inch surgery scar, he was left with a five inch packed wound.

The wound took almost six months to heal, and despite regular attendances to his GP for dressing and observation, he suffered a prolonged infection which resulted in the reopening of the wound.

In 2017, further scans at the hospital confirmed that doctors failed to remove a fragment of clothing which had entered his abdomen alongside the drill bit.

Surgery to remove this went ahead the same year, and whilst he has recovered fully since, the negligence left him with a 12cm scar across his abdomen and significant loss in earnings.

He said: “All the way through this process Lauren at Hampson Hughes has been there any time I needed her, I have had a few worries and she has always been able to reassure me. I know she has worked very hard on my case and got me the best settlement she could and I trusted her all the way through. I would recommend Lauren to any of my friends that ever need a solicitor. I now feel the stress has gone and that is all down to her”.

 

Hampson Hughes settled the case for £44,000.

 

If you feel you’ve been subjected to instances of medical negligence, please contact the Hampson Hughes clinical negligence team today to see if you are eligible to claim compensation, call us free on 0800 888 6888, or email us at info@hampsonhughes.com

Maternity care: Are we experiencing a safety crisis in our hospitals?

More than a third of maternity units across the country need to improve the quality of care they provide, according to data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The health watchdog has highlighted how 38% of maternity services are not meeting the required standards when it comes to patient safety, with 1% deemed as ‘inadequate’.

As part of the inquiry by the health select committee, Prof Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospital for the CQC, warned that we could be facing a ‘constant stream’ of issues if significant culture changes aren’t made.

But, what are the issues and how can they be tackled to improve safety standards on our maternity wards?


ARE WE SEEING A TREND FOR FAILINGS IN MATERNITY CARE?

Put simply – and very worryingly – yes. Many of us will remember hearing about the Morecambe Bay investigation, which was an independent public inquiry launched by the Secretary of State for Health in September 2013, following concerns over serious incidents in the maternity department at Furness General Hospital (FGH)

The concluding report, which covered a period from January 2004 through to June 2013, showed the maternity unit at FGH to be ‘dysfunctional’ and highlighted how failings in clinical care had led to unnecessary deaths of both mothers and babies. The Investigation Panel also looked at pregnancies at other maternity units run by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust; however, serious concerns over clinical practice were confined to FGH.

Key issues that were identified related to the clinical competence of a proportion of staff, including a lack of essential knowledge and not recognising, or appropriately acting upon, warning signs in pregnancy. Poor working relationships between midwives, obstetricians and paediatricians, creating a ‘them and us’ culture’, was also highlighted as hampering clinical care.

Following the report, Dr Bill Kirkup – who led the investigation – issued a number of recommendations and learnings for the wider NHS.

However, the CQC’s recent data demonstrates that lessons may not have been learned, sadly, meaning there are still areas requiring urgent improvement.

Further maternity scandals have also recently been exposed at East Kent, where up to 15 babies have died since 2011, while another review is still underway at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust in Shropshire, in what is feared to be the NHS’s biggest maternity scandal. Nearly 2,000 families have made complaints about their care and they include those who have lost mothers and babies.

We called for more action to be taken on these issues in our recent blog: ‘Urgent need for action’ remains following East Kent NHS Trust birth scandal


WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES IN MATERNITY CARE?

Sadly, we are seeing a rise in the number of medical negligence cases relating to poor maternity care. For example, we have dealt with cases where midwives have been too busy to correctly read the cardiotocography (CTG) trace and therefore haven’t identified foetal distress.

Other cases have included a failure by nurses to diagnose signs of shoulder dystocia and to continue to pull on baby’s head to force delivery causing significant physical injury and developmental problems. In addition, we’ve seen a failure by a consultant obstetrician to arrange an urgent c-section and, in doing so, caused a delay in birth and subsequent brain hypoxia to the baby.


WHY ARE THERE PROBLEMS IN MATERNITY CARE?

According to Prof Baker, who led the CQC’s latest report, maternity units are ‘too defensive’ when births go wrong and, as a result, are causing a danger to patients. He told how individuals are often blamed rather than wider issues within the system being addressed.

And, it is believed that some units ‘actively conceal’ mistakes, Dr Kirkup told the committee.

However, a number of elements are contributing to the rising problem, according to our Head of Clinical Negligence, Carlos Lopez. He said: “While this latest report is deeply concerning, it’s important that we don’t begin finger-pointing and, instead, look at what is causing such problems.

“Not only do we have a lack of midwives, but we also have a lack of funding for quality training and ongoing development for the profession. We’re also seeing junior doctors being over-worked and given responsibilities way beyond their level of experience, due to staff shortages. It’s clear from the data that lessons have unfortunately not been learned, despite a series of maternity failures in recent years including the Morecambe Bay, East Kent and Shrewsbury investigations and it poses the question of how many more mothers and babies will have to suffer before stronger action is taken?”

If you’ve been affected by poor maternity care that has led to medical negligence, our team may be able to help. To find out more, get in touch with our team of experts for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Give us a call on 0800 880 7864 or drop us an email via: info@hampsonhughes.com

Mental health in law: looking after our employees and clients

Over recent years, the legal sector has worked to prioritise mental health.

After research from the Junior Lawyers Division showed that over 93% of respondents feel under too much emotional or mental pressure, and over 77% admitted their firm could do more to support stress at work, firms have reframed the way they look at the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.

 

October 10th marks World Mental Health Day, a global initiative set up by the World Federation of Mental Health to help further education and awareness and advocacy to end the stigma around mental health issues. With long hours, challenging workloads and rising expectations, it is unsurprising that stress and anxiety can factor into the life of a law firm, but how can companies ensure they are prioritising their employees’ mental health, and subsequently see that roll out to their clients?

 

What can firms do to ensure good mental health? 

 

Here at Hampson Hughes, we ensure that advocating good mental health is integral to the daily running of our offices for both our clients and colleagues.

 

Often we work with clients who have been through traumatic experiences, and our team of highly experienced legal experts have acted for clients who have been victim to sometimes life-altering circumstances. As a result, it is incredibly important to us that all of our staff are trained to support clients who are struggling.

 

Every member of our team go through annual training in mental health and suicide awareness to ensure that no matter what the claim, from the moment a client makes an enquiry right up until their case has been settled, we provide the appropriate advice and access to support services. This aids in not just getting the compensation our clients deserve, but also to help them seek a sense of justice and closure.

 

However, it is not just our clients we have a duty of care to, and supporting our employees’ mental health has always been a high priority for us. To do this, we have implemented a number of initiatives such as providing training for our entire team in mental health and wellbeing, as well as appointing mental health first aiders to provide support to anyone who needs it, and paying for our employees to have their own plans with Medicash, offering up to six sessions of face-to-face counselling should they require more than just a friendly ear.

 

Recognising the need for mental health first aiders allows companies to open up effective communication around the subject and reduce the overall stigma of struggling with mental health. Our four mental health first aiders are on hand for a chat, and to create a positive work culture within the office. The course, which was provided by MHFA England at The Liverpool Law Society, also helps our mental health first aiders spot the warning signs of mental ill health and empowers them to signpost an individual to where they can get help, before those symptoms develop into something more serious.

 

We also have links to internal and external support contacts on our intranet, which are highlighted for all employees on their induction, in exactly the same way first aiders and fire marshals would be. These include access to Law Care, an organisation that supports good mental wellbeing within the law sector, and the MediCash stress support number, which the team can utilise anonymously.

 

Dottie Fairbrother, HR Business Partner & Head of People Management, and mental health first aider at Hampson Hughes, said: “We have worked hard to cultivate an open and friendly working atmosphere at Hampson Hughes. As mental health first aiders, our door is always open and we are never too busy to listen to people who might be struggling.

 

“It is so important that the team know they have access to one-to-one support by someone they trust within the office, and this has worked well in maintaining honest dialogue around mental health, and continuing a positive work culture.”

 

Future-proofing mental health during a pandemic

 

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown presented a unique set of challenges for firms. At Hampson Hughes, we were able to move our entire workforce to working from home in only 24 hours, something which we are very proud of.

 

However, the isolation that comes with lockdown restrictions, as well as anxiety around job security and the pandemic in general, is something that firms shouldn’t ignore. We wanted to be transparent with our workforce and therefore set up regular catch-ups and team briefings to keep everyone on the same page, as well as to give people the chance to ask any questions, or to let us know if they have any concerns.

 

We also made an effort to remind people to look after both their mental and physical health whilst working from home, encouraging regular walks and breaks away from their computers, so they were not becoming overwhelmed.

 

One of the more surprising effects we have found navigating our way through the pandemic, is the feeling of being underwhelmed that has been felt by some staff members. Feeling disconnected from the office environment, and without regular face-to-face contact with colleagues, otherwise vibrant and outgoing members of the team may start to feel the negative impact of isolation.

 

In order to tackle this, we took action to transform our offices into the safest environment possible, installing screens between desks, and implementing routine cleaning of office surfaces. This enabled us to allow people who may have been struggling with isolation to return to work safely.

 

Supporting clients throughout their claims 

 

Ensuring your place of work is thriving rather than simply surviving will have its own knock-on effect to clients, and this is something we have worked hard to provide at Hampson Hughes. From the first response team, to the administrators, from the solicitors to the directors, nurturing a positive and supportive work culture ultimately effects not just the staff, but the clients too.

£25,0000 awarded to driver following a serious road traffic accident

A driver from Watford whose injuries from a road traffic collision impacted his career progression at a warehouse, has had his case settled for £25,000.

The 40-year-old, who wishes to be known as Z.D, had been stationary in the central reservation of a dual carriageway waiting to turn right, when a car shot out of an adjacent petrol station and ploughed into his vehicle.

Suffering from shock and unaware of the severity of his injuries, Z.D walked home after his vehicle was recovered, but soon began to experience cramps on the right side of his body.

He was signed off from work for two weeks by his doctor but, on returning to his role as a packing and finishing assistant at a warehouse, he struggled to carry out his daily duties that included heavy lifting.

Having only been in his job for three months, Z.D was approaching the end of his probation period and was on course for a promotion to become a warehouse supervisor. However, when his injuries began hindering the quality of his work, Z.D was refused a permanent contract with the company.

He was also forced to give up his role as a freelance kickboxing instructor and personal trainer.

As such, Z.D suffered major financial loss and turned to credit cards and loans to help him stay up to date with his bills and living costs.

His mental health was also severely affected as he spiralled into depression.

Z.D said: “Straight after the accident, I didn’t realise I was hurt so I walked home – I was in shock and was angry at what at just had happened. It was only as I was on my way home that I started experiencing bad pain all the way down my right side.

“As soon as I was authorised to go back to work, I did so but my injuries majorly affected how much I could do and, despite being promised a promotion and a permanent role, I lost my job.

“It was an extremely tough time as I had to rely on borrowing money to stay afloat and my mental health suffered badly.”

Z.D added: “From the beginning, Hampson Hughes was incredibly helpful and supportive, explaining everything to me very clearly. The team were very professional, often bearing the brunt of my frustration at the overall situation, but they remained calm and supportive, promising to achieve a positive outcome for me.”

Z.D suffered physical injuries, including whiplash, muscular damage to the right side of his body and a shoulder injury, for 18 months following the incident and was later diagnosed with a specific phobia disorder. He underwent physiotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy to aid his recovery.

 

His claim was settled in August 2020 for £25,000.

 

Niamh Wilson, Head of Civil Litigation at Hampson Hughes Solicitors: “The impact of this client’s accident went far beyond the scope of physical injuries – not only was his career hindered, but he also suffered major mental health issues as a result.

“This is often the case for victims of road traffic accidents as the effects of a serious incident such as this can last far longer than the physical injuries. It’s therefore important to seek legal advice from day one so that we can support you along the way and arrange private treatment that deals with both the physical and emotional impact of your accident.”

Have you been involved in a road traffic accident?

If you’ve been injured on the road due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, then you could be entitled to claim road traffic accident compensation. Whether you’ve suffered a minor injury or something more serious, our Road Traffic Accident solicitors can help you to claim the compensation that you deserve.

Find out more about road traffic accident claims, or call our team for free, no-obligation advice on 0800 888 6 888 or send an email to info@hampsonhughes.com

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: when the signs are missed

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and alongside bowel cancer, equates for almost half of all cancer deaths in women.

This October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an initiative set up to promote awareness and support the early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of breast cancer. Within this month, almost 5,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Thanks to earlier and faster diagnosis and advancement in treatments, breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the past 40 years, however the disease still accounts for 11,500 deaths in women and 85 men a year in the UK, and recent research by Breast Cancer Now has shown that almost a million women have missed vital screenings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst the NHS and private healthcare providers are more often than not excellent in detecting breast cancer early, it is important to know the signs for yourself, and what to do if those are missed.

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAST CANCER AND HOW TO SPOT THEM

There are many different types and classifications of breast cancer, determined by which specific cells in the breast are affected.

The type of breast cancer can also refer to whether the cancer has spread or not. ‘In situ breast cancer’ is a cancer that starts in a milk duct and has not grown into the rest of the breast tissue, whereas ‘invasive breast cancer’ is used to describe any type of breast cancer that has spread (invaded) into the surrounding breast tissue.

 

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – Non or pre-invasive breast cancer
  • Invasive breast cancer (commonly IDC) – Breast cancer has spread into the surrounding tissue. These types account for around three quarters of all breast cancers.
  • Triple-negative breast cancer – An aggressive form of invasive breast cancer, wherein the cancer cells don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors and also don’t make too much of the protein called HER2. This accounts for 10-15% of all breast cancers.
  • Less common types of breast cancer – Less common forms of breast cancer include Paget disease of the breast, angiosarcoma and phyllodes tumours.

Although most people diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, the disease does not hold an age limit, so it’s important to be looking out for the signs and symptoms in order to secure an early diagnosis, significantly improving the chance of survival. These include:

  • A lump in the breast
  • Thickening of the skin or tissue of the breast
  • Dimpling of the skin of the breast
  • A lump or swelling in either armpit
  • A change in the shape or size of the breast, such as swelling in all or part of the breast
  • A nipple turning in (inverted nipple)
  • An eczema-like rash on the nipple
  • Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
  • Pain or discomfort in the breast that does not go away.

To find out more about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, visit the below websites:

Macmillon Cancer Support

Cancer Research UK

Breast Cancer Now

 


BREAST CANCER AND MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE: HOW CAN THE SIGNS BE MISSED?

Unfortunately, the majority of breast cancer medical negligence occurrences happen as a result of a delay in diagnosis. Usually, if you find any symptoms that could be linked to breast cancer, your GP should refer you to see a breast consultant within two weeks, and in most cases this is adhered to. However, sometimes women can be told to keep an eye on symptoms, which delays diagnosis, or they may even be referred for tests to be told they’re all clear, only to be called back six or more weeks later to be told more tests are needed.

Routine breast cancer screening is currently on offer to women over 40, however with resource stretched to account for the coronavirus pandemic, those scans have been missed. Breast Cancer Now has reported that around 8,600 women who have missed these routine scans will now be living with undetected breast cancer.

Furthermore, research has shown that regular mammograms for women aged 35 and over were effective in detecting breast cancer when tumours were much smaller and before it had spread, giving patients a much better chance of survival. Currently, ultrasounds are used instead of mammograms for younger women due to the breast density, however there are more false detections of breast cancer with this method of detection.

Time is of the essence with diagnosis, and failings in diagnosis are devastating for those with the disease. Late or misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary surgery, minimised treatment options and shortened life expectancy.

Medical negligence solicitor Rachel Simms, at Hampson Hughes said: “Most women will experience harmless lumps in their breasts during their lives, but it is always important to get it checked medically if you are concerned, as in the event it is cancer, getting it diagnosed early will significantly improve your chances of recovery.

“If you are unsure or unhappy with the treatment your GP has offered, seek a second opinion or request a scan. Trust your own instincts. At the end of the day it is your body and you need to ensure you have peace at mind.”

Medical negligence can occur at any time during the diagnoses, treatment and monitoring of breast cancer. If, for example, monitoring of the disease is not done appropriately or for long enough, there is a chance that the cancer could return and be missed, allowing it to spread. For those claiming for breast cancer medical negligence, the claim would often also include the psychiatric effects of having unnecessary breast surgery, when earlier diagnosis could have prevented the need for surgery.

In order to claim for medical negligence you must be able to demonstrate that:

  • That the level of care has been substandard
  • That you have suffered recognisable pain, injury and/or ongoing damage, or sadly resulted in the death of a loved one
  • That the issues you have suffered are caused or contributed to as a result of negligence by a medical professional

If you believe you have been a victim of breast cancer medical negligence, it is vital to find the guidance and support of a qualified and trustworthy medical negligence solicitor to assist you in seeking the compensation that you may be entitled.

Here at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, we look at every circumstance surrounding your medical negligence claim. We listen, we support, and we help to make the process as easy as possible for you. Whether your concern is over whether you can claim, how a claim works, or how to pay for a medical negligence claim, the best way to find answers is to contact one of our expert solicitors for free, no-obligation advice.

With this in mind, the team at Hampson Hughes have put together a helpful medical negligence guide.

There are also organisations set up to support those affected. For a list of services and resources visit Cancer Research UK.

Hampson Hughes Solicitors have an experienced and dedicated team of legal experts who specialise in medical negligence claims. If you would like to discuss your experience with one of our team, please contact us on 0800 880 7864 or info@hampsonhughes.com, for free, no obligation advice and support.