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Compensation for Widower Whose Wife’s Cancer was Misdiagnosed

Compensation for Widower Whose Wife’s Cancer was Misdiagnosed

skin cancer

A widower has been awarded thousands of pounds in compensation after his wife was misdiagnosed as suffering from an infection, when in fact she had cancer. Over a two-year period, Kathleen Howe, 67, was told repeatedly by an NHS consultant that she simply had swimmer’s ear, with it later transpiring that she had skin cancer.

For advice on obtaining compensation for a delayed or misdiagnosis of cancer or other serious medical condition, please contact our dedicated medical negligence solicitors. We offer a No-Win No-Fee Agreement so there is no financial risk involved if you are not successful. Contact us today on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the stroke negligence claim and the injuries sustained to PI@ibblaw.co.uk or complete our online form.


Skin cancer misdiagnosed as 'swimmer's ear'

Former NHS domestic assistant Kathleen Howe died in July 2012 after medics failed to spot on multiple occasions that she was suffering from cancer. Her husband, Alan Howe, has now received several thousands of pounds in an out-of-court settlement to compensate for the medical negligence she suffered.

Mrs Howe, from Aberystwyth, was sent to Bronglais Hospital by her GP in June 2010. She had worked at the hospital for 30 years and had complained to her doctor that she was experiencing dizzy spells. At an appointment in September of that year, she was told she had otitis externa – most commonly known as “swimmer’s ear”.

Otitis externa is a condition that causes redness and swelling of the external ear canal – the tube between the eardrum and the outer ear. Usually, only one ear is affected and the infection can cause severe ear pain, itchiness in the ear canal, and a discharge of liquid or pus. Further, sufferers may find they have some degree of temporary hearing loss. The condition is often referred to as “swimmer’s ear” as repeated exposure to water can make the ear more vulnerable to inflammation and around 1 in 10 people are affected by it at some point in their lives.

Mrs Howe was given eardrops by a consultant at Bronglais to treat the diagnosed infection, however she felt that she knew something serious was wrong. She continued to experience the same symptoms and attended the hospital on at least four more occasions.

In September 2011, Mrs Howe was referred to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen. There she was found to have a cancerous tumour known as a squamous cell sarcinoma – the second most common type of skin cancer in the UK. The non-hereditary cancer, caused by excessive exposure to ultra-violet light, appears as a scaly or crusty area of skin, with a red inflamed base. Due to the delay in diagnosis, the cancer was terminal and Mrs Howe died on 29 July 2012.

Two-year delay in skin cancer diagnosis proved fatal

An investigation after Mrs Howe’s death found that but for the medical negligence she experienced, she would have had a 90 to 100% chance of survival if treated. The cancer can be cured if detected at an early stage, but the two-year delay in obtaining an accurate diagnosis proved fatal.

Alan Howe commenced legal action against Hywel Dda University Health Board, which runs Bronglais Hospital, to obtain justice for his wife. An out-of-court settlement, understood to be thousands, has now been reached.

He said that from the time his wife first reported her symptoms to the eventual accurate diagnosis, a professor told him that the cancer had progressed from type 1 to type 4.

Mr Howe praised the nursing staff that looked after Kathleen in the five-month period after diagnosis to when she died, stating: “Despite the awful experience I would like to highlight the incredible care of the nurses. They treated her with respect and dignity.”

However, he condemned the actions of the consultant who failed to listen to his wife’s increasing concern. Mr Howe said:

“It was devastating to watch my wife’s journey in trying to find answers from the hospital about her illness only to be told that she had an ongoing ear infection. In actual fact she had a type of cancer that could have been treated if caught sooner. If they’d picked it up at the start she’d still be with me. That’s what I’ve got to live with now – knowing that she should still be here.”

The couple were due to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary next year. Mr Howe has commented that he only hopes that in settling the case, “the hospital learns lessons and reviews its systems to ensure this doesn’t happen to others.”

A Hywel Dda University Health Board spokesperson has since publicly stated: “We regret that on this occasion we did not provide the high standards of care we strive to. We have apologised to the family for the failings and I would like to reiterate our apology. As with any incident we will continue to review the situation to ensure that any actions required are taken to avoid it occurring in the future.”

Compensation for victims of cancer misdiagnosis and other conditions

You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you. Our goal at IBB Solicitors is to obtain justice for victims of the negligence by others, by securing compensation that reflects their pain and suffering, as well as related financial losses including loss of earnings, treatment costs and specialist care costs.

If you believe that you have suffered harm as a result of a delayed or misdiagnosis, or from negligence resulting from the actions of your GP, consultant, surgeon, nurse, dentist or other health care provider contact our medical negligence solicitors today. We offer a No-Win No-Fee Agreement so there is no financial risk involved if you are not successful. To discuss your case or to make an appointment please contact us on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, please email us at PI@ibblaw.co.uk or complete our online form.