Claimant was referred to breast clinic at Defendant hospital by GP. She had 5cm palpable abnormality in upper outer quadrant of right breast close to the nipple. Mammogram and ultrasound showed only normal and benign breast changes and she was therefore discharged into care of GP with assurances that there were no abnormalities.
Ten months later she again consulted her GP when it was recorded that there was a three and a half inch mass in the area previously examined. She was again referred to the breast clinic but mammogram did not reveal any significant change. An ultrasound did not reveal any mass type or focal type lesion however, upon recommendation from the treating doctor an ultrasound guided needle core biopsy was carried out. The biopsy revealed that she had an invasive moderately differentiated carcinoma measuring 120mm and five out of thirteen lymph nodes were found to be infiltrated by metastatic disease.
Five weeks later the Claimant underwent right mastectomy and axillary node clearance. She subsequently had adjuvant treatment consisting of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to the chest wall and supraclavicular fossa, as well as adjuvant hormonal treatment.
The Claimant brought an action against the Defendant alleging negligence in failing to carry out needle biopsy as part of a full triple assessment when she was initially referred. Had the cancer been identified at that stage she submitted she would have received a lumpectomy and avoided mastectomy with associated physical and psychological problems. Further, the ten month delay was likely to have an adverse effect on survival. Liability admitted in part.
Out of court settlement: £80,000 (General damages).