Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK with statistics sadly showing that 1 in 8 women are diagnosed during their life time.

These statistics indicate that each and every one of us is highly likely to know someone in their lifetime that finds themselves face to face with this disease.

Tireless hours are spent raising awareness for breast cancer, ensuring that the signs and symptoms are known and checking your breasts becomes part of your weekly to do list. This is with the aim of ensuring that anyone who does have concerns knows that their next step should be to immediately present to their GP.

Symptoms of breast cancer include a change in size or shape of one or both breasts, discharge from the nipples, which may be streaked with blood, a lump or swelling in either armpit, dimpling on the skin of the breasts, a rash on or around the nipple, a change in appearance of the nipple such as becoming sunken into the breast.

Diagnosing breast cancer involves a mammography or taking a small sample of breast tissue to be examined. These are often performed following a “two week wait” referral by the GP.

With the awareness that we have and breast cancer being so common, it is tragic to discover that even these measures and precautions do not protect patients from Medical Negligence occurring.

Medical Negligence

Delay in Diagnosis

Medical Negligence may occur if there has been a delay in diagnosis which had led to the cancer getting worse, spreading and ultimately impacting upon prognosis and life expectancy.

Examples of when this delay could occur may be through a failure to refer a patient who presented with symptoms or a failure to investigate further following an examination and or a mammogram.

Our Medical Negligence team are currently supporting the family of a patient who negligently suffered a 12 month delay in diagnosis after a lump was identified on a mammogram but nothing else was done about it. After a 12 month period of returning to her GP and Hospital, the cancer was eventually diagnosed but by this stage it had tragically spread to other parts of the body and the prognosis was terminal.

Had this patient not received negligent treatment this could have resulted in the cancer being recognised at a much earlier stage, requiring less invasive treatment and not such a poor prognosis and ultimately such a tragic result. 

Inappropriate Treatment

Medical Negligence could occur following a diagnosis by way of a failure to correctly identify the stage of the cancer resulting in insufficient treatment, negligent errors during surgery or incorrect monitoring following breast cancer.

Our Medical Negligence team have recently resolved a case in the sum of £75,000.00 which involved reconstruction surgery of the breast following removal of cancerous tissues which left behind unidentified medical gauze in the breast leading to continuous infections. We are extremely pleased that we were able to achieve an excellent settlement for our client after many years of suffering in what could have been an avoidable instance of negligence.

Playing our Part in Raising Awareness

Here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors it is vital to us that we play a role in raising awareness for medical conditions and support the life changing research into diagnosis and treatment. 

On Friday 23rd October 2020 we will be participating in ‘Wear it Pink’ day across all of our offices. Our colleagues will each wear something pink to support research and raise awareness for this awful disease.  

If you would like to discuss a possible medical negligence claim relating to Breast Cancer or any other medical failure, please contact one of our medical negligence solicitors on 01925 418 004 or email info@markreynoldssolicitors.co.uk

Iron Infusions causing Permanent Staining

Here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors we are seeing an increasing number of cases of permanent staining arising from Iron Infusion Treatments.

Iron Infusions are often offered to patients who have iron deficiency anaemia and it is not uncommon for this treatment to be offered during a term of pregnancy. The procedure involves a cannula insertion in which the infusion can be dripped straight into the vein. This should be a pain free procedure and can sometimes result in a minimal amount of bruising at the injection site.

Sadly, many patients have been suffering much more permanent and painful results. These results arise from extravasation of the infusion.

Extravasation Injuries

An extravasation injury is when damage is caused to the surrounding tissue to the injection site as the solution will actually leak from the vessel into neighbouring tissue space. 

Clients who have fallen victim to this type of injury have reported the procedure feeling immediately painful and some noticing their skin around the injured site becoming orange in colour.

Following the procedure, there will remain a darkened area of skin which many of our clients have been reassured at the time is merely bruising, which it is not. It is in fact long-lasting and permanent staining to the skin.

The emotional distress this causes is hard to contemplate and coming to terms with the permanency of this staining can be a big adjustment for anyone to make who has experienced this.

Medical Negligence

Those who are administering Iron Infusions should be appropriately trained, understand the risk of extravasation and make the patient aware of the risk whilst also being able to identify signs and symptoms of extravasation throughout the procedure.

When the standard of care falls below what is required and the above factors are not adhered to, Medical Negligence may have occurred.

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors identify when the standard falls below what is expected and ensures that the negligent party is held accountable.

Our Medical Negligence Team have a depth of knowledge surrounding this type of negligence and want to ensure those who have had the misfortune to encounter this negligence are given the guidance and assistance they deserve in making a Medical Negligence Claim.

Most recently, Lisa Musgrave who is one of our Medical Negligence Solicitors, resolved a case relating to a client who attended hospital for a routine iron infusion and was left with permanent staining to the arm. In this case, the negligent hospital failed to correctly consent our client and also failed to undertake the appropriate checks during the infusion.

Lisa ensured that our client was seen by both a Camouflage Makeup Expert and Clinical Psychologist.  The experts made the appropriate recommendations to assist in rehabilitating the client which included access to a lifetime supply of camouflage makeup and further appointments with a Clinical Psychologist. This case was settled in the sum of £30,000.00.

Over recent months we have taken on an increasing number of cases similar to this one and our team continue to support and provide legal advice to any such clients throughout their ongoing claims.

If you would like to discuss a possible medical negligence claim relating to Iron Infusions or any other medical failure, please contact one of our medical negligence solicitors on 01925 418 004 or email info@markreynoldssolicitors.co.uk

What is the process for suing my GP?

No one chooses to take legal action against their GP or hospital doctor without a lot of consideration. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, but in some instances, it is an appropriate one if we feel we have been a victim of medical negligence.

GPs and hospital doctors are highly trained individuals on whom we depend to make important decisions about our health. Most of the time, the treatment we receive is at least satisfactory, but occasionally things can and do go wrong.

Because most of us have high levels of trust in medical professionals, it can sometimes feel bewildering when medical negligence has occurred. Many people are subsequently put off pursuing compensation believing the process is particularly difficult, or that the odds are stacked against them.

Some people are reluctant to instigate a claim against a GP out of a feeling of loyalty, particularly if that GP has looked after their family for a number of years without any previous negligence. They may be concerned about the consequences for their future treatment, or of having to find a new GP.

Issues around GP negligence can be as damaging to an individual’s long-term health and wellbeing as hospital negligence. When the treatment you receive is less than adequate or actively harmful to your future health and wellbeing, there are means to try and gain proper redress.

Understanding GP negligence

The standard of care provided by GPs can vary widely. As a result, the types of possible medical negligence incidents that can occur are numerous.

Some of mistakes that can be made by a GP include:

  • A failure to adequately examine a patient
  • A failure to perform certain tests and examinations
  • A failure to properly review and then act upon an examination or test results
  • The issuing of an incorrect prescription
  • A failure to consult an appropriate specialist or refer the patient to a consultant.
  • A failure to diagnose a serious disease
  • A medical procedure being carried out incorrectly

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is helpful to think about the kind of practices and GP tasks that can lead to possible negligence.

What consequences can GP negligence have?

It’s often presumed that medical negligence is mostly an issue for hospitals, and that there’s little that can happen during a GP consultation that could have severely damaging consequences for the patient. That’s far from the case, with medical negligence in the GP practice there are a variety of incidents that can have a significant impact. For example, failure to refer a patient for cancer investigations can result in the cancer progressing, and the illness becoming much harder to treat.

Prescribing the wrong medication to patients can lead to possible side effects, some of these can be serious with long term debilitating effects. As too can a failure to properly assess how someone was responding to certain treatments, with serious issues such as liver or kidney damage as a possible result.

Serious conditions such as meningitis are sometimes missed. If unstable angina isn’t spotted it can lead to a cardiac arrest, and a failure to correctly diagnose or manage diabetes can result in serious life-limiting consequences for the patient.

Our GPs are usually our first point of contact when we are ill. It’s vital that they properly diagnose any conditions we may have, prescribe the right medication and if necessary, refer us to specialists for further treatment. The failure to do any of those things correctly can result in conditions getting progressively worse.

If you believe your GP failed to properly carry out their duties and you suffered harm as a result, then you might be able to make a successful medical negligence claim.

Make a complaint

The first step many people who believe they have been a victim of medical negligence take is to make a complaint to their GP practice. If your first concern is to receive an apology, or a full explanation of what happened, this should always be your first step. It can be useful not only in helping to provide closure for the individual concerned, but also in ensuring that lessons are learnt and similar mistakes are not made again.

When you are making a complaint, you should try and include the following information:

  • The time and date of your treatment, and where it took place
  • The names of all the individuals involved
  • A description of exactly what happened
  • The reason why you are making your complaint
  • The questions you want answering

You don’t have to make a complaint through the NHS complaints procedure before launching legal action. It can be useful, however, as it may give you more information on which to base your decision about further action. It could also provide valuable information in any medical negligence claim you decide to pursue.

Taking things further

Even if you’ve received an explanation or apology from the individual GP, healthcare practice or provider, it’s still possible to pursue a claim for medical negligence against your doctor.

Medical negligence is a complex area of law and every case is different. Therefore, it’s important to contact a solicitor with experience in the field who will be able to advise you about the likelihood of your claim being successful.

The procedure can feel daunting but our experienced team of medical negligence specialists can provide you with considered advice and support in making your claim.

Will making a claim affect how my GP treats me?

If you’re still under the care of the GP about whom you’re making the claim, or are still registered at the same practice, you may be concerned that the treatment you receive will be influenced by making a claim. GPs are not allowed to treat you any differently just because you’re taking legal action. If you suspect they are, this in itself could be a legal matter.

Is your claim valid?

The first question we will consider is the validity of your medical negligence claim.

For your claim to qualify as medical negligence, it will need to be proven that the medical practitioner was at fault, and that fault caused you harm. In addition to this, medical negligence compensations claims must be filed with the court within 3 years of the incident that caused harm or injury taking place.

There are some exceptions to this time limit, if for example you discovered the harm done to you months or even years after the initial incident. Your specialist medical negligence solicitor will be able to provide you with advice based on the details of your individual case.

You claim will only proceed further if you are able to satisfy two conditions:

  • Liability – it can be shown that your GP was performing at a lower standard than similar professionals in the same field.
  • Causation – you will need to be able to prove that the harm done to you was as a direct result of the negligent action, and otherwise would not have occurred. The balance of probabilities applies, so there will need to be at least a 50% chance that the harm was caused by the initial incident.

Medicine is a constantly evolving science with competing schools of thought. If other doctors are willing to vouch that they too would have undertaken the same course of action as the GP about whom you’re making a case, then your claim is unlikely to go any further.

These questions need to be explored as quickly as possible to ensure that you can make a claim within the time limit. Contacting a specialist solicitor to discuss your case should therefore be a priority.

The time limit

The Time Limitation Act 1980 set out a time limit of 3 years for medical negligence claims to be made. This is known in legal terms as “the date of knowledge”. This could be the date when the negligence occurred, or much later when the harm was discovered. You may be unsure about the exact date when the three years started.

The limit is for formally lodging the claim with the court, not just for contacting a solicitor, so it’s important to act as quickly as you can.

There are some exceptions to the three-year time limit:

  • Under 18s – anyone under the age of 18 when the incident occurred, has three years from the date of their 18th birthday to make a claim in their own right.
  • Mental illness – if the claimant was suffering from a diagnosed mental illness at the time of the incident, the three-year period doesn’t start until they are considered fully recovered.
  • Brain damage – if the injury caused to the claimant was brain damage that resulted in them not being able to conduct their own affairs, then there is no time limit for making a claim.
  • Death – if the claimant dies, either as a result of the negligence or any other cause, the limitation for their family to bring forward a claim is three years from the date of death. If they die while making a claim, then the family have three years from the date of death to decide to continue with the claim.

Assessing your losses

When assessing the claimant’s losses, they will need to be presented in terms of pain and suffering, mental anguish, impact on quality of life, and the loss of earnings, past, present and future. It will need to be demonstrated that these losses are a result of the negligence, not underlying medical conditions. These losses will be calculated by your solicitor, who will consult similar cases in the past and estimate an average pay-out. Any final calculation will of course take inflation into account.

The investigation

This is the lengthiest part of the claim process. Your solicitor will ask for your medical records, including any notes or details that were recorded at the time of the negligence. The solicitor will then put together a written statement containing the details of your claim, which you need to sign. It will then be forwarded to independent medical experts to assess the standard of care you received from your GP.

Once the best course of action has been settled on by all the parties, a formal Letter of Claim will be sent to the practice or doctor in question. The defendant then has four months to respond, either in form of an admittance that the details in the claim are correct, or a refusal of the case.

If they admit the claim, your solicitor can immediately begin negotiating a reasonable settlement. A settlement can be reached any time prior to the case going to court. If the value of your claim cannot be agreed in a timely fashion, then court proceedings may be necessary.

Get in touch for expert medical negligence advice

The process of making a medical negligence claim can feel long and convoluted, but the level of pay-outs can make it worth persevering. If you believe you’ve been a victim of GP negligence our team of experienced medical negligence experts want to hear from you. Get in touch today for confidential advice about your case.

x-ray showing cancer diagnosis

The impact of a delayed cancer diagnosis

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we can provide the legal representation you are looking for if you have been affected by a delayed cancer diagnosis. If an opportunity for diagnosis has been missed and the cancer has developed further than it perhaps otherwise would have, it’s only right that you should decide to take legal action.

Why would a diagnosis be delayed?

A cancer diagnosis can be delayed for many reasons. Tissue samples and smears are sometimes misinterpreted by specialists, as are scans and x-rays. The diagnosis may also be delayed because a detailed investigation was not carried out. Cancers that are sometimes diagnosed later than they could have been include skin, lung, cervical, breast and bowel cancer, as well as lymphoma, carcinoma and others.

You may also wish to take action if you have been diagnosed as having cancer when you didn’t. You may have undergone procedures that were not necessary because of your misdiagnosis or may have experienced great psychological suffering.

What are the risks of late diagnosis?

When cancer is diagnosed too late, the disease can spread throughout the body and make the illness less treatable. This can reduce your chances of survival. It’s vital that medical specialists diagnose cancer as quick as they possibly can, to give you the best chance of making a recovery. An early diagnosis also means your treatment is more likely to be successful. A report carried out by Incisive Health and Cancer Research UK found that around 52,000 cases of colon, rectal, lung and ovarian cancer may have been diagnosed too late each year. Delayed diagnosis can also raise treatment costs, resulting in the NHS paying more to provide care.

Is there always someone to blame?

Delayed diagnosis can happen for many reasons, and it is not always the fault of medical specialists. Some illnesses are diagnosed too late because patients remain unaware of the systems for some time before they seek help. It’s not uncommon for diagnosis to occur too late because patients are too fearful to visit their GP. However, if you do suspect your diagnosis occurred too late because a healthcare provider failed in their duty of care to you, we may be able to help you source compensation and justice.

Why choose Mark Reynolds?

We have a great deal of experience when it comes to handling a wide range of clinical and medical negligence claims. We always aim to get the best possible outcome for our clients, taking our time to understand the nature and impact of the negligence on you and your family. We are accredited by Action Against Medical Accidents, and all of our solicitors have received the highest standard of training needed to handle medical negligence claims competently and professionally. For many of our clients, compensation is not the only reason for taking legal action. Equally, it’s about highlighting the issues and ensuring that their case is heard and ultimately acted upon.

Get in touch today

We can help you get closer to the truth and find out why something unpleasant has happened to you when receiving medical care and can reduce the chances of the same thing happening to others in future. To find out more about taking legal action following a delayed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis, contact us today.

How A Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim Works

We investigate cases relating to the delay in diagnosing cancer here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors. This is a difficult topic, as the diagnosis of cancer always has a profound effect on an individual but to then find out that the cancer may have been diagnosed earlier, is very hard. We find that these clients have a lot of unanswered questions about why their cancer was missed, what impact it would have had on them if they had been diagnosed when they should have been, whether their cancer has progressed during the misdiagnosis period and whether this will ultimately affect their treatment. These are the questions that we try and get answers to during our investigations.

There are many factors that influence a claim relating to the misdiagnosis of cancer. These include; the type of cancer, the grade of the cancer, the period of the delay and the staging of the cancer at the time of the diagnosis. They are by no means easy claims, but we try to make them as simple as we can for our clients.

As well as having a physical impact on our clients, the delay in diagnosis can have an emotional impact and sometimes a psychological impact. Some clients understandably find it difficult to process that their cancer could have been diagnosed and treated earlier. We offer as much support as we can to these clients to help them through their difficult time.

We are currently investigating a claim relating to the delay in diagnosing thyroid cancer. Our early investigations indicate that there was a four-year delay in diagnosing our client’s cancer. This client had initially attended with a lump in her throat and a biopsy was taken but the client was told that there was nothing to worry about. It was only when the client returned as the lump had grown, that the cancer was diagnosed.

If you feel that your medical condition has been misdiagnosed, please contact us on 0800 002 9577 to talk to one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors.