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Missed lung cancer diagnosis

The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth has failed to spot lung cancer in three patients because their staff failed to check patients’ X-rays properly, according to health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The patients suffered “significant harm” according to CQC, who also found during a visit to the hospital in July that the Queen Alexandra also had a backlog of 23,000 chest X-rays to work through. None of those images taken within a previous 12-month timeframe had been formally reviewed by a trained clinician or radiologist.

Of the three patients who were said to have suffered significant harm, two have since passed away. Junior doctors at the hospital complained that they were asked to carry out specialist radiology work despite not having the proper training to do so. Junior doctors were asked to review chest and abdomen X-rays – a “specialist skill” say the CQC, which needs to be undertaken by “properly trained clinical staff who know what they are looking for”.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has unreservedly apologised to the families affected and the CQC has launched a review of NHS radiology services across England. That will be of little comfort to those that have suffered and worry that they may find themselves in a similar position, though, especially when considering that Queen Alexandra isn’t an isolated case.

Medical negligence is a serious problem for families to cope with across the UK, especially in cancer cases like the above where, if spotted early enough, an appropriate plan of action may be put in place to try and help improve survival rates. Approximately 70% of lung cancer patients will survive for at least a year if the disease is diagnosed in its earliest stage, compared against 14% who are diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer (2).

The Belfast Health Trust – the biggest in Northern Ireland – has recently felt it’s had to defend itself as recent Government figures show it spent £34million on ongoing medical negligence complaints up to the end of the last financial year. For health trusts across Northern Ireland the overall bill has hit £94million, taking into account cases which are open, ongoing and remained live as of March 2017 (3).

Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trusts alone has paid out £24.2million for the 2016/2017 financial year (4). Medical negligence is a serious issue that may rear its head throughout any and every hospital within the UK, and though statistics such as the above suggest that more families are addressing it and searching for compensation they feel they rightly deserve, it will be of little comfort to those who have lost loved ones through serious failings from the health system and professionals they felt they could trust.

Compensation and bringing those responsible to account though could help families to get a sense of closure surrounding their loss, as well as providing them with the additional financial support to make any necessary arrangements and aid the recovery process. Most importantly, holding those who were supposed to help to account can go a long way to bringing negligence and failings to light, to ensure that nobody else has to go through the same experiences as you.

If you feel you’ve been subjected to instances of medical negligence that has affected your health in a detrimental manner, please contact the Hampson Hughes medical negligence team today to see if you are eligible to claim compensation. Our friendly team are always on hand to offer support and legal advice. Call us today on 0151 236 1222 or email info@hampsonhughes.com.

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