Medical negligence: delayed diagnosis of tumour

Our client, was a serving soldier in Iraq when he started to experience pain and discomfort in his left calf.  He consulted the Army doctors on numerous occasions over a 7 month period during which time his calf became increasingly painful and swollen.  By the time he was eventually referred for specialist treatment and an MRI scan a tumour in his calf had spread which led to him requiring an above knee amputation with him subsequently being medically discharged from the Army.

The allegations of negligence were in relation to a delay in the diagnosis of the cancer for a 7 month period during which time the tumour became significantly larger.

The issues of both whether the medical treatment was negligent and to what extent the delay had caused him to sustain additional injuries were complicated and required a considerable amount of investigation.

It was accepted that if it was found that it only became negligent not to refer our client for treatment a couple of months before he was actually referred the claim would fail as his condition and prognosis at this point would have been very similar to his condition and prognosis when he was finally referred.

It was therefore necessary to carefully review the time line over the 7 month period in order to try and establish at what point it was negligent not to refer him for specialist treatment and what his condition and prognosis would have been at this point.  We then had to try and calculate the potential value of the claim with reference to the extent to which his condition and prognosis had deteriorated as a result of any negligent delay.

The issues of both negligence and causation were in dispute throughout the case.

The case was due to proceed to Trial.  Although the MoD had fully defended the case and denied all allegations of negligence it was eventually possible to agree the settlement of the claim 7 working days before the matter was due to proceed to Trial.

Our client's main reason for bringing the claim was to try and recover sufficient damages to allow him to buy prosthetic limbs on a private basis as these limbs were much more advanced and comfortable than the limbs available on the NHS.  The settlement of the claim ensured that he had sufficient funds to purchase prosthetic limbs for the rest of his life.

It was only possible to recover damages in this matter by persevering with the case which involved being prepared to pursue a fully defended case through to Trial.  It was only when we got very close to a Trial date that the MoD were prepared to consider the settlement of the claim.

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