£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.”