Negligent treatment error leads to death of mum

Posted by Elizabeth O'Mahony, 5th June 2019
This tragic and complex case concerned the failure of a GP to send a skin biopsy to pathology resulting in a malignant melanoma, which metastasised to the brain and caused the death of a mother of two.

The case was brought by the dependants of the deceased who were referred to Elizabeth O’Mahony at Blake Morgan by recommendation.

Julie* visited her GP as she was concerned about a mole which was catching on her clothing. The GP took the decision to remove the mole in the setting of the GP surgery.  However, he failed to send the sample to the pathology department to check that nothing sinister was going on.  Instead, it was simply disposed of.  It was later stated by the GP that the sample had been “burnt up” in the removal and there was no specimen to send.  However, if that had been the case the GP should have referred Julie to a specialist for further examination but this was not done – with devastating consequences.

Sadly within a year the mole had returned and she went back to the GP.  This time she was sent for further testing and this confirmed a malignant melanoma which tragically had already spread to her brain.  Julie died within a few months of this diagnosis leaving behind her partner and two children.  Our expert evidence showed that had the sample been sent to pathology or if Julie has been referred for further examination at the first removal, then the cancer would have been detected, treated and she would have had a complete cure.

Liability was not admitted by the GP and so our expert clinical negligence solicitors were forced to issue the claim at court.  An early offer to settle was advanced by the Claimants.  No defence was served and after negotiation a financial settlement was reached in the sum of £110,000.00, with no admission of liability.

While the compensation has helped provide for those Julie leaves behind, the value of this matter did not outweigh the importance of this case.  They wanted to ensure that lessons were learnt to prevent this happening to another family.

Commenting on the compensation, Julie’s partner commented: “I would like to thank you for everything you have done for us, I’m sure it (the damages) will help them (the children) in the future.”

*Names have been changed in this article to protect client confidentiality.

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