Settlement of almost $200,000 for NSW women following delayed diagnosis of breast cancer by a general practitioner

PUBLISHED 09 Jun 2017

This case involves a middle age woman who, in reliance on her medical practitioners enquired about a presence of a lump in her breast. Unfortunately, treatment was not provided and referrals were not provided resulting in a significantly worse outcome when breast cancer eventually was detected. Fortunately, however, her case managed to be settled for just short of $200,000.00.

This case involved a 50 year old women who depended upon her general practitioner whom she had first come under the care of 10 years ago. She remained under his care for the majority of her health issues and considered him to be her “doctor”. On this particular occasion, the Plaintiff had noticed a lump in her upper left breast and consulted with her GP for treatment and advice. A mammogram and ultrasound were performed which described the lump as normal. Importantly, no biopsy was performed.

Following this, as the lump remained in situ, the Plaintiff again presented 2 months later where she was advised that the lump was normal and did not need to be investigated.

Further 6 months later she attended upon the medical practice once more for a Pap smear and breast examination performed by a nurse employed at the medical centre. This examination allegedly resulted in no abnormalities being detected despite the presence of the lump being clearly there. She was advised by the employee of the medical centre that the lump was likely due to her bra and not due to any breast cancer being present. She was sent home as a result.

A further few months late r, she re-presented to her General Practitioner and again complained about this lump but again was advised that she had nothing to worry about.

This process continued for some time until a few months later, the Plaintiff, based on her own concerns contacted her local hospital to arrange for radiology. She was advised that she could not obtain this radiology without a referral to a radiology clinic. Consequently, she went to a different practitioner, who advised her that she needed a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy performed that day a referral was promptly made.

The following week, these investigations were performed and the following day she was informed by her new GP that she had cancer. She was diagnosed with the grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma. As a result of this diagnosis, she required a mastectomy and further treatment.

Following her life saving treatment she was extremely aggrieved and spent some time coming to terms with her diagnosis. She eventually contacted Gerard Malouf and Partners, where Mr Leslie Abboud, a senior solicitor with over 30 years’ experience in medical negligence matters took carriage of her case. Mr Abboud had immediately identified the disinterested approach of the general practitioner in treating this woman’s extremely legitimate concerns. In obtaining this evidence, he immediately briefed an expert general practitioner to comment upon the care and treatment that she had been provided with.

Being aware that the difficulty in all cancer cases is causation, Mr Abboud also briefed other relevant specialists to identify what the likely outcome would have been for the Plaintiff had she been diagnosed in a timely fashion. In doing so, Mr Abboud established firstly that the treatment provided by this general practitioner and the employed nurse was below a reasonable standard of clinical practice. However, more importantly it was shown that the progression of this woman’s cancer would have been significantly less had she been immediately diagnosed and the degree and severity of her surgical treatment would have not required a mastectomy.

Armed with this evidence, Mr Abboud immediately briefed an expert barrister and obtained further evidence of the degree of damage suffered by the Plaintiff in this matter.

Without having to incur the costs of proceeding to a court hearing, Mr Abboud sought to arrange a mediation and was able to resolve this matter for almost $200,000 in our clients favour. We hope that this result provides the compensation required to come to terms with this unfair result at the hands of her general practitioner. We hope with results like this encourage general practitioners to take these matters seriously and to take the complaints of their patients as seriously as possible.

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