Woman has terminal cancer after doctors missed tumour two years ago

September 3, 2010 | by | 1 Comment

A woman who has just weeks to live with terminal cancer has been awarded £75,000 compensation after doctors spotted her lung tumour two years ago – but failed to act.

Former nurse Janet Hardingham, 65, underwent a series of checks for a heart problem at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Somerset, in 2007.

During one check a radiographer spotted a shadow on her chest and made a note stating it should be x-rayed again ”within six weeks”.

But nothing was done until Janet, of Trowbridge, Wilts., went back suffering heart palpitations in 2009.

She was told she had a suspicious shadow on her left lung but a junior doctor then admitted it had first been seen two years before – with no action taken.

By the time doctors acted it was too late and the tumour had become inoperable – and Janet, a former district councillor, now has just weeks to live.

She has been awarded £75,000 compensation after the hospital admitted it had been negligent.

Widow Janet said: ”I’m furious. I just want to do something to make the hospital stop and look at what they are doing. I don’t want this to happen to another family.

”You do cope, you have to cope. I have had plenty of tears about the whole thing but it’s exhausting. There was an X-ray that was taken back in 2007.

”The radiographer had written on the report but nothing was done. I hadn’t even been told anything had been spotted. I am very, very angry.”

Grandmother-of-five Janet, a former councillor on West Wiltshire District Council, was first taken to the hospital in 2004 after she suffered a heart attack.

During further treatment in 2007 a shadow on her lungs was spotted on an X Ray but despite a radiographer ordering further x-rays nothing was done.

Two years later she was rushed into intensive care with arrhythmia – heart palpitations – and had another series of x-rays taken.

She recovered but before she was due to be discharged a doctor told her she had a shadow on her left lung and that she would need a bronchoscopy.

But the grandmother-of-three was horrified when the junior doctor that her the shadow had been picked up on an x-ray two years earlier.

She said: ”I had a number of chest x-rays as I received treatment for my heart and was told a something suspicious had been spotted.

”But when a junior doctor told me that the shadow had been spotted two years ago and not acted upon I was absolutely furious.

”Like most other people, I had put my full trust in the hands of the hospital and for two years had thought I was fine.

”All that time a tumour was growing in my lungs and they could have stopped it.”

The bronchoscopy last November confirmed she was suffering from inoperable cancer and she was given just a year to live.

Janet said: ”I just feel so angry. I have so much to live for and want to spend time with my grandchildren who I adore but that’s been taken away from me.

”Two years ago, the tumour was very operable and I was younger and stronger – I would have had a chance.

”The hospital is responsible for so many lives and I just want something to be done so that other families don’t have to go through this.”

Janet’s husband James – also a former district councillor – died of a heart attack aged 60 in 2009. He was a chief controller for Euro Star and Network Rail.

Her out-of-court settlement from the Royal United Hospital is relatively small because she also had other conditions related to her heart.

Tim Craft, Medical Director at the RUH said: ”We are sorry that Mrs Hardingham’s care did not meet the high standards we would expect to give, and that she is entitled to receive.

”We are in regular communication with Mrs Hardingham and have met with her to discuss her concerns.”

Her solicitor, Liz Bryant a medical negligence specialist at London law firm Devonshires, said the hospital made an unusually quick settlement.

She said: ”There was a clinical negligence case regarding the Royal United Hospital in Bath. We did settle this case in June. It’s amazing that it was settled so quickly.”

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  1. Injuries caused by the negligent acts of a person or organisation will give rise to a claim for damages. The amount of those damages depends on the severity of the injuries, the loss of earning, medical expenses etc. Solicitors advises you whether your injury is likely to give rise to a claim and if so the merits and possible value of the claim.

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