Cancer – the ticking time bomb for patients and claimants

Posted on: March 30th, 2013

It has been reported recently in the national press that a staggering 25% of cancer sufferers are being sent away by GP’s and hospitals with their early warning signs dismissed as minor ailments.

The sad story of Peter Cura, who died at just 31 of kidney cancer despite receiving almost 40 diagnostic tests for cancer, is only one example of many cases of delay and failure to diagnose cancer.

In a country where patients have one of the lowest survival rates from cancer, the UK’s primary and secondary healthcare services are allowing unnecessary delays to happen. This, in many instances, represents a breach of their duties to their patients. These delays have far reaching effects not only for the patients, but also for their families who feel that the treatment received has been negligent.

It should go without saying that a cancer left untreated is likely to be fatal and that early diagnosis and treatment is likely to increase the patient’s prospects of survival.

It is the issue of prospects of survival which is so crucial for patients and/or their families when considering if the treatment has been delayed and is negligent and if damages are recoverable.

The law currently provides that if a person is unable to establish that their healthcare provider has prevented them from being cured through delay or failure to diagnose the cancer, then they will not be entitled to claim for the loss of chance of a cure. In other words, if the patient’s prospect of surviving a further 10 years from the date of the negligence was already below 50% when the negligence took place, then they cannot recover damages for this lost chance. This approach was approved by the House of Lords in 2005 in the case of Gregg –v- Scott.

This matter of Gregg remains good law and has been positively applied to many other types of case, including a misrepresentation and trading case, as recently as 2010.

This is an incredibly difficult decision for patients and their families to accept and only a few cases will satisfy the test that the prospects of survival were still above 50% when the negligence took place.

At Coffin Mew, we have a dedicated clinical negligence team with a proven track record for providing sound legal advice for those patients and families wishing to investigate a claim for damages arising out of the failure to diagnose and treat cancer.

We have access to some of the UK’s leading cancer specialists and clinical negligence barristers.

We aim to build a strong medical-legal team around our clients to ensure that their claims are investigated quickly and effectively.

We are happy to provide a free initial consultation for anyone who might believe they are a victim of clinical negligence.

We will always investigate various methods of funding a claim from the outset, including Legal Aid and “No Win – No Fee” Agreements.

If you believe that you or a member of your family may have been a victim of clinical negligence, however it may have happened, we are always happy to discuss your case with you. Please contact Doug on 023 9238 8021 in confidence if you have any questions.