Patient complains to Ombudsman over delayed cancer diagnosis

Health news. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150730-111621001
Health news. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150730-111621001

A hospital trust has paid compensation to a patient after a series of hold-ups in her treatment delayed a breast cancer diagnosis.

The patient was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy eight weeks after her first appointment at Sussex and Surrey Healthcare Trust.

Investigators intervened when she complained to the Ombudsman about her treatment.

For confidentiality reasons, the woman is referred to only as Ms N in the report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The report said: “Ms N found a lump in her breast and her nipple started to invert.”

She was referred to the trust, where staff carried out a mammogram and an ultrasound scan, but neither confirmed signs of the disease. The carried out an MRI scan the next month which was inconclusive but it wasn’t until the following month biopsies were carried out and Ms N was diagnosed.

The complaint was partly upheld.

The report siad: “The trust should have carried out biopsies at an earlier stage and, in line with relevant guidelines, performed a triple assessment (clinical assessment, mammography and/or ultrasound imaging, and core biopsy and/or fine needle aspiration) in a single visit.

“The trust did not have the facilities to do this.”

The report said the trust ‘missed opportunities’ to arrange a biopsy at the first assessment – which meant the diagnosis of the disease was similarly delayed.

The ombudsman said there were ‘failings’ in the way trust staff communicated with Ms N about her care.

However, ther report adds the delay in diagnosis did not lead to Ms N undergoing more aggressive treatment but it causes ‘anxiety and stress’ because of the lack of diagnosis.

The trust acknowledged the failings and apologised to Ms N, paying her £500 compensation for the ‘worry and distress’ caused by the delay in diagnosis.

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