Re K v Chelsea & Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust

February 23, 2010
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This is an unusual case with particularly tragic circumstances.

The deceased had an irregular chest x-ray which showed a mass in her chest. This was misdiagnosed as a pulmonary embolism and no further investigations were carried out. As a result, the unusual and aggressive form of lung cancer that the deceased (a lifelong non-smoker) was suffering from was diagnosed too late for her to receive any palliative care.

The deceased deteriorated rapidly and died less than two months after giving birth to her second child, at 23 years old. Her son was one year old at the time of her death. She died without knowing what was wrong with her and without being able to say goodbye to her children. A claim was brought on behalf of the family against the NHS Trust. It was fiercely defended but a global settlement was eventually reached in the sum of £22,500 plus legal costs.

One of the main issues in this case was that the cancer had shortened the deceased’s life expectancy, even if she had been correctly diagnosed at an earlier time. The negligence served to decrease the time she had left with her loved ones by up to 12 months. It was difficult to quantify this loss but the Court has now approved the settlement order, an excellent result in an unusual and vigorously defended case.

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