Breast cancer negligence claims

Introduction

Updated: October 8, 2018

Around 50,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Survival rates are high at 79%, and that rate is improving all the time thanks to better screening and treatment. However, avoidable errors are still made, in regard to diagnosis, treatment and surgery.

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Any patient who feels that she has received substandard medical treatment may be eligible to make a clinical negligence claim, regarding a GP's negligence, private hospital or local NHS Trust.

Doctor discharging patient

Do I have a breast cancer negligence claim?

If you have suffered from breast cancer negligence in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

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Types of breast cancer negligence claims

Breast cancer negligence claims typically fall into one of two categories:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis claims, where a GP has failed to recognise the symptoms and failed to promptly refer a patient for investigation
  • Surgical negligence claims, where the specialist team has failed to carry out the appropriate investigative tests or has made errors during surgery to assess or remove cancer tissue.
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Defining breast cancer misdiagnosis

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has laid down clear guidelines for the assessment of certain types of suspicious lumps.

Generally, the following cases should be referred urgently to a specialist for investigation:

  • Where one or more hard, discrete and immovable lumps are identified
  • Patients over the age of 30 with a discrete lump that presents after menopause or persists throughout the menstrual cycle
  • Patients under the age of 30 with a family history of cancer or a lump that exhibits certain cancer-indicative features
  • Patients with eczema on one breast, nipple discharge or other changes to the nipple.

Other breast cancer risk factors include age (women over 50 have a higher risk of developing breast cancer), certain hormonal conditions radiation exposure. GPs are expected to assess the patient's full medical history before making a professional decision about whether to refer the patient for further tests.

Failure to follow NICE guidelines or exercise the appropriate degree of professional skill can indicate a breach of duty on the part of the GP.

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What is breast cancer surgical error?

Breast cancer surgical error occurs whenever a specialist fails to diagnose, classify, assess or treat breast cancer with the appropriate degree of skill.

Examples of clinical negligence include:

  • Failing to conduct the necessary investigative tests such as mammograms, ultrasound scans and biopsies
  • Mistakes in interpreting scans and pathology samples
  • Failing to remove all the cancerous cells during surgery, leaving a higher-than-average risk of the cancer recurring
  • Negligently administering chemotherapy drugs
  • Recommending one type of surgery when another type of surgery would produce a better outcome for the patient.

This list is not exhaustive. Any intervention that falls short of expected standards may lay the foundation for a compensation claim.

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How do I know if I have a claim?

To make a successful claim, it must be shown that:

  • The standard of care provided by the medical professional fell below the expected standard (negligence); and
  • The Claimant suffered illness or injury as a result (causation).

All surgery carries a degree of risk and not every unsuccessful surgery or treatment option will support a claim for compensation. For example, a Court may not award compensation to a patient who was not immediately referred for tests, but whose cancer did not develop to a more advanced stage in the meantime. In this scenario, the delayed diagnosis did not cause injury, as it did not impact the Claimant's treatment, prognosis or recovery time.

If, on the other hand, the negligent actions contributed to a worsening of the patient's condition in more than a negligible way, there is a better chance that the claim will succeed. An experienced injury lawyer can advise whether a claim is possible in each case.

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No Win, No Fee arrangements for breast cancer claims

A No Win, No Fee agreement, also known as a CFA or "Conditional Fee Agreement", is a crucial piece of most claims.

Your CFA sets out a contract or "terms and conditions" between your lawyer and you.

The document explains the work provided by the lawyer in addition to the "success fee". The "success fee" is the percentage that will be deducted from the compensation once the claim is won.

Choosing a Quittance personal injury lawyer, you can focus on recovery and rehabilitation, with the knowledge that you will never be out of pocket and there will be nothing whatsoever to pay if your case is unsuccessful.

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How much compensation can I claim for breast cancer negligence?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our personal injury compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

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Meet the team

Quittance Legal Services' nationwide network of solicitors handle all types of clinical negligence claims and have a wealth of experience in fast track, complex and serious injury claims. Our solicitors are selected on the basis of their success rate in winning claims and their specialist expertise.

Click here to meet more of the team.

 
Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
 
Carol Cook Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
 
Lee Raynor Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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