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5 December 2017 | Comment | Article by Ruth Powell

Missed lung cancer diagnosis – A delay with consequences

At Hugh James, we have sadly brought multiple claims for delays in receiving a lung cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. We had hoped that the cases of missed lung cancer would decrease as time went on due to lessons being learnt and the advancement in medicine and detection of cancer at an early stage.

Sadly, within the last seven days, we have seen in the news that patients at The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth have suffered delays in diagnosing their lung cancer because their radiology/scans were not checked properly.

The BBC then reported that junior doctors at the Hospital had been asked to carry out this specialist radiology work without receiving appropriate training and that three patients at the Hospital had suffered “significant harm” two of which had already died.

The Care Quality Commission confirmed that at their inspection in July 2017 the Hospital had a backlog of 23,000 chest x-rays and that none of the 23,000 x-rays had been formally reviewed by a radiologist or trained clinician in the former 12 month period.

The Trust has apologised and set up a free phone helpline – 0800 7837118 – for anyone who is concerned they may be affected.

It is wholly possible that more than three people will have been affected by the delays in the (appropriate) reviewing and reporting of chest x-rays at Portsmouth Hospital. A specialist radiologist or clinician is required to review these types of scans because they know what they are looking for to ensure that the signs of cancer will not be missed.

At Hugh James, we have experience investigating these cases with the assistance of evidence provided by independent expert witnesses. These expert witnesses are able to identify when cancer should have been diagnosed and what harm a delay may have caused the patient.

Each case is different; for example, some patients will have missed the opportunity to receive different or more extensive treatment (such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy or a lobectomy) and other patients may have suffered a loss in life expectancy and/or additional pain and suffering.

If you are concerned about the treatment you have received from The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth or at any other hospital concerning your treatment of lung cancer, then please do contact us and we will speak to you free of charge and see if we can help.

Hugh James is ranked in the top tier for our expert clinical negligence advice by both major legal guides Chambers and Partners and Legal 500. Visit the Medical Negligence page for more information or to get in touch.

Author bio

Ruth Powell


Ruth is a Partner and Head of our Clinical Negligence Department. She has exclusively practised in clinical negligence since qualifying in 1995 and has a wealth of experience in complex and high value clinical negligence claims.

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