£360,000 compensation due to GP’s negligent failure

Moore Blatch have obtained compensation of £360,000 for a family who lost their husband and father of four children due to his GP’s negligent failure to refer him on for investigation after he passed blood in his urine. Mr X subsequently died as a result of metastatic renal cancer.

Mr X had been fit and well when he saw his GP complaining of painless blood in his urine when aged 50. The GP arranged initial blood tests, advised that the symptoms were probably due to over-exertion or infection, rather than possible cancer.  However, when the test results showed no sign of infection, the GP failed to refer Mr X on to a urologist for further investigation.

Mr X suffered from no further symptoms for 3 years, but this time and after seeing a different GP, he was referred to his local urological clinic where imaging revealed renal cell carcinoma which had spread through his body. Despite surgery, chemotherapy and further medical treatment, Mr X died aged 56.

Mrs X initially complained to her late husband’s GP, who replied that she had acted in accordance with NHS guidelines for referral for haematuria (blood in the urine).

Mrs X was not satisfied with this and involved the General Medical Council (“GMC”) which undertook it’s own investigation.  This advised that the GP had fallen below the expected standard of care by not arranging an appropriate referral, but which then concluded that the GP’s reasons for not referring on had been reasoned, and the possibility of cancer had been considered and discarded (albeit incorrectly) on clinical grounds.

Mrs X persevered with her concerns and involved the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (“PHSO”) who obtained a further independent opinion which again concluded that the GP had not followed NICE guidelines on referral for haematuria and, as such, had failed to provide care in accordance with the appropriate standard. The Ombudsman’s view, however, was that whilst there had been an opportunity to diagnose cancer at a much earlier stage, and that whilst this would have provided Mr X with a significantly higher chance of survival, his family would never know whether an earlier referral or diagnosis would have meant a better outcome for him.

Following Moore Blatch’s instruction, we invited the GP to admit liability and avoid the cost of further investigation into the treatment provided, but the GP’s medical defence organisation insisted upon a full Letter of Claim based upon independent expert evidence being provided for them to consider.

Moore Blatch obtained supportive expert opinions in the fields of GP medicine, urological surgery and oncology, which reiterated the fact that the GP had failed to provide Mr X with an appropriate standard of care and that, had he been appropriately referred for investigation, his cancer would have been diagnosed at an earlier stage and, with appropriate treatment, he would have had a greater than 80% chance of survival of 15 years.  On the balance of probabilities, he would have been cured of his cancer.

It was only after submission of a detailed Letter of Claim setting out the evidence that had been obtained by Moore Blatch that the GP’s medical defence organisation indicated that this was a claim which it wished to compromise.

A claim was brought on behalf of Mr X’s estate for an award of general damages for his own pain and suffering and loss of amenity prior to his death, past financial losses including a significant award in respect of the care that had been provided to Mr X by his family over the course of his ill-health, together with funeral expenses and a significant award for financial and service dependency for his surviving family.

An overall settlement of £360,000 plus costs was agreed.

Paul Kingsley, one of our clinical negligence solicitors at Moore Blatch, acted for the family in this matter.