Mother prematurely passed away due to an undiagnosed brain tumour

SP sadly died from an undiagnosed cerebral glioma (brain tumour). She had been attending her GP for tiredness, dizziness, weight loss, headaches, severe bouts of vomiting and in the later months, confusion and vision problems. She was diagnosed with food poisoning, then a stomach ulcer. Her symptoms continued so she went back to see her GP on a number of occasions but was diagnosed with depression. From this point on, all professionals that SP seemed to encounter attributed her symptoms to depression or stress.

In December 2014, SP suffered from severe vomiting, headaches, weakness and acute confusion. An out of hours GP requested that an ambulance take her to A&E urgently, however, when the ambulance team arrived, SP was wrongly advised that she did not need to attend hospital. There is an unfortunate backdrop to this claim as a six month pilot scheme was in place which manned ambulances with a paramedic and also a rapid response nurse with advanced clinical skills. The pilot was created to offer an alternative service to an ambulance dispatch for adults with particular needs where it was believed an A&E attendance or hospital admission could be avoided. It is very much our view that at the time SP desperately required A&E attendance, there was a drive to keep patients that required ambulance attendance out of A&Es.

Tragically, SP suffered a dramatic deterioration after Christmas in 2014. When she finally received a CT scan at hospital, a mass lesion was found within the left temporal lobe and possible acute haemorrhage. An urgent neurosurgical opinion was recommended and SP was transferred to St George’s Hospital for surgery. Histology showed a Grade IV cancerous tumour. Whilst she had excellent care there, unfortunately, she made no real neurological recovery after surgery and very sadly, she passed away in January 2015.

Her family wanted to ensure that lessons were learned and to provide some financial security for SP’s young daughter who was only three years old at the time. Cases involving misdiagnosis of cancer are notoriously difficult to prove because it is often the case that the outcome would have been the same, even if the care had been of a good standard. We sought expert evidence from an oncologist and a neurosurgeon who believed that sadly, the cancer was not curable, but had it been diagnosed earlier, SP’s life would have been prolonged by 9 to 15 months which would have allowed her time to make arrangements for her daughter and prevented her from the pain and suffering that she endured for the last months of her life.

Natalie and the team at Barlow Robbins have been fantastic. They have been incredibly honest and open about the process, which helped us prepare and make a more informed decision about how we move forward. Their sensitivity throughout has been greatly appreciated and I highly recommend them.


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