Camilla Freehill was finally able to resolve her High Court action of alleged medical negligence against the Health Service with an undisclosed cancer misdiagnosis settlement for the health service’s failure to diagnose and treat her breast cancer.
The judge heard from the claimant’s counsel, shortly before High Court proceedings were about to commence, that an agreement had been reached with no admission of liability by the health service, but which includes an undertaking to pay for future reconstructive surgery on a private basis.
Ms Freehill, aged 65, was initially referred to hospital in 1993 for mammography and on many occasions thereafter. She claims that the hospital wrongly assumed in 2002 that an abnormality in a mammogram related to scar from previous surgery when, she claims, it had in fact failed to ask if she had previously undergone surgery.
Additional mammograms in 2004 and 2005 reported an area of “architectural distortion”, which in both cases were categorised as benign. It was not until 2007 that a biopsy was performed on the area and established cancer diagnosed in her left breast and lymph nodes.
Three weeks later, Ms Freehill had to undergo a mastectomy and, in her claim, alleged that subsequent chemotherapy and radiotherapy created other medical problems including infections and allergic reactions. Ms Freehill also alleged that the radical surgery would have been unnecessary had the hospital correctly recognised and acted upon the findings of the earlier mammograms.
Despite the final settlement being decided upon with no admission of liability by the health service, they admitted a failure to properly diagnose and treat Ms Freehill during a period from 2000 to 2007, but denied any negligence in her treatment prior to 2000 and responsibility for the deterioration of her condition due to the misdiagnosis.