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Tim Brown
Tim Brown, GP
Category: Oncology
Satisfied Customers: 4077
Experience:  GP in Sussex
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A family member has just been diagnosed with lung cancer

Customer Question

A family member has just been diagnosed with lung cancer after a chest X-ray showed a shadow on her lung. However, when she went to see the lung specialist doctor they commented that the shadow was present on a previous chest X-ray approximately 6 months prior to the most recent X-ray. She had an X-ray 6 months before as she had fallen off a ladder and had pain in her chest and foot. They thought she had broken a bone in her foot at the time but it turns out that it wasn’t a break so she was discharged. However approximately 6 months later she attended A and E again with breathlessness. Another X-ray was taken and when she rang her gp a week later regarding her breathlessness they commented that a shadow was on her X-ray and that they would need to send her for a CT scan. Following a number of appointments with different specialists one doctor commented that the pain she was feeling in her chest was probably due to her broken rib, that was present 6 months ago but she was never informed off. He also commented that he believed the shadow wasn’t cancerous as it was present on her X-ray 6 months ago and it had not appeared to have changed. A week or so later she has now been diagnosed with lung cancer. We are not sure what stage it is and whether it has in fact gotten worse in the last 6 months but early diagnosis is crucial here and it was missed 6 months ago. She probably won’t want to go down the route of claiming for medical negligence if she is entitled to at present as this is a really difficult time for us all. I just wanted to seek some advice to see if she had a case here, and if so, what would be the next steps?
Many thanks
Submitted: 17 days ago.
Category: Oncology
Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

Good evening, I am Dr Ruff, thank you for contacting us today.

Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

I am sorry to hear about your relative. This is indeed a very sad and stressful time. This would all depend on who had requested the initial chest xray as the requester is responsible for following this up. If however it was suggestive of something else and not sinister, then this would not be negligence, as they were investigating for something non sinister and would be using this investigation to exclude an injury.

I would therefore suggest if you want to pursue this, you should instruct a solicitor who will request the notes and reports, and then a doctor would be able to give an independent opinion on whether something was missed due to negligence or if this is just unfortunate. This would then give you an answer.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
They were 6 months ago not investigating anything sinister but just injury. However they did miss, or failed to tell my aunt, that she had in-fact broken a rib. However, if it was clear on the X-ray that there was a shadow should somebody not have noticed this and flagged this up. From your response I believe that if she didn’t get an X-ray to investigate anything sinister but only injury, even if something sinister was clearly there and they missed it, there has been no medical negligence. Is this correct?
Thanks
Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

Close, so if an xray was requested to check for a bone injury for example, the imaging would still be done, but it is far more likely a lung pathology would be missed. If they attended with shortness of breath, the reporting radiologist is likely to miss this as they would briefly check the lung fields, but focus on the question being asked.

Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

Therefore I am saying this seems more a probable cause to miss something which most would have probably done. Negligence is considered when the actions of the person you are challenging, are different to that of the majority of doctors in that situation.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
therefore in your opinion there would be no claim for negligence here? Thanks
Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

Without seeing the documented notes, what your relative claims and the reports, I cannot say. You would need to seek advice from a medico legal solicitor.

Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

They would then request a formal medical opinion with the notes etc.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Would we need to pay for this service usually? Thanks
Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

Yes, but some solicitors provide a no win no fee depending on if they feel this is appropriate. You would need your family member to make this claim though.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok will do thank you for your help
Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

That is my pleasure, all the best and I wish your family member all the best.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Thanks
Expert:  Tim Brown replied 17 days ago.

Take care.