Delayed diagnosis of Breast Cancer by GP and Radiologist results in huge settlement for Bathurst woman

PUBLISHED 20 Mar 2015

Our client in this claim is a woman Bathurst with a significant family history of breast cancer. In August of 2011 she noticed a lump in her left breast. She consulted her general practitioner (First Defendant) and expressed her concerns that the lump may be cancerous. The general practitioner examined her breast and advised that the lump was probably benign. Nonetheless, it was advised that she undergo further scans. Her radiologist (Second Defendant) reported the lump as being a small Montgomery tubercle. Reassurance was given to our client, who maintained her concerns, that the lump was a cyst and not cancerous.

Again, in March of 2012, she presented to her GP with left nipple retraction, bleeding and infection. Once again, she was reassured that nothing was wrong and sent for further imaging. The consequent imaging reported that the breast was normal. As her problems persisted, she consulted a General Surgeon who quickly recognised the possibility of malignant breast cancer. At this stage it was late April of 2012, several months following her first consultation where she raised concerns. Further tests were conducted and it was quickly identified that our client had breast cancer. She underwent an emergency left total mastectomy and left axillary clearance. She has since undergone post-operative chemotherapy and subsequently been diagnosed with the cancer spreading to her sternum.

Understandably aggrieved by her mistreatment and the apathetic attitude of her doctors ultimately resulting in the loss of her breast, she approached Gerard Malouf and Partners where Leslie Abboud, a senior solicitor with over 30 years of experience, took carriage of this matter. Mr Abboud, and his specialised medical negligence team, obtained medical expert reports and opinions.

Through these expert reports it was established that both the general practitioner and radiologist had been negligent in their management of our client. Firstly, the general practitioner failed to follow what is known as “the triple method of assessment” whereby it is considered that to correctly assess for breast cancer, a physical examination must occur, followed by imagining and a biopsy. In this circumstance, a biopsy was even more relevant given the persisting nature of the lump, the family history of the Plaintiff and the aggressive symptoms the Plaintiff was experiencing. Secondly, it was found, through consulting an expert radiologist, that our client’s radiologist had given a completely incorrect diagnosis in his first consultation with our client. The radiologist had alleged that the lump was a small Montgomery tubercle, however it was established that the images taken of the Plaintiff did not disclose the typical appearance of a Montgomery tubercle and showed irregularities that would have led a competent radiologist to recommend an ultrasound guided biopsy to ensure the mass located in our client’s breast was not cancerous. Our expert radiologist considered such a failure grossly negligent and was quick to advise us, by way of an expert report, of such failings.

Equipped with clear evidence of a tragic circumstance of gross negligence, Leslie Abboud briefed an expert Barrister to assist and began to seek to have this matter dealt with as rapidly as possible to ensure the best result for our client. The Defendants agreed to enter into a mediation following the requests of Mr Abboud and together with our specialist Barrister we were able to achieve a settlement of $320,000.00 for our client. She was very satisfied with this result and thankful that she did not have to go through a traumatic and potentially humiliating experience of a trail given the sensitive nature of her claim. We understand that this settlement won’t be able to fight our client’s illness but we hope that it does provide her with some solace and closure following her gross mistreatment. Additionally, we hope that cases like these help encourage medical practitioners to take the complaints and concerns of their patients seriously.

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