Woman left devastated after test result mix-up leads to unnecessary mastectomy

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Woman left devastated after test result mix-up leads to unnecessary mastectomy

24th April 2014

A woman who underwent an unnecessary mastectomy after a test result mix-up meant she was incorrectly diagnosed with breast cancer has received £105,000 in an out of court settlement.

Jacqui Hayat, a medical negligence expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the appalling clinical error - which occurred when another patient’s tissue sample was mistakenly attributed to her client - had left her client utterly devastated.

“After having suffered months of breast pain, my client was understandably extremely anxious when she discovered a lump in her right breast and was referred for scans at her local hospital in July 2011,” said Jacqui, a partner with the firm. “Her worst fears were then confirmed when she was told a biopsy had revealed she had breast cancer.”

After specifically telling her doctors that she wanted to consider the options of keeping her breast, the claimant was advised that because her cup size was small, it would be more appropriate for her cosmetically if she were to have a mastectomy with breast reconstruction surgery rather than a lumpectomy. After she underwent the operation to remove her breast her tissue samples were analysed and found to be cancer-free. The biopsy and mastectomy tissues were then examined and found not to match.

“When she was told in November 2011 that she didn’t in fact have cancer and that her biopsy sample had been mistakenly swapped with another patient’s, rather than feeling happy and relieved, my client was completely distraught and felt nothing but tremendous anger, loss and disbelief,” she added. “In her own words, ‘her whole world went dark,’ she started having nightmares and she wasn’t even able to look at her scar.”

The NHS Trust responsible for the error admitted breaching their duty of care to the claimant by erroneously and negligently diagnosing her with breast cancer, resulting in an unnecessary mastectomy. The Trust apologised and said that they deeply regretted what had happened.

“My client still feels incredibly angry about what happened to her and cannot even talk about the incident with her family,” said Jacqui. “She has been left with scarring and an irregular looking right breast which she continues to feel extremely self-conscious about. Although she has now been fitted with an implant, she has been left with permanent pain in her right breast and she will need implant replacement surgery in the future.

“Fortunately, the kind of totally unacceptable clinical error my client was subjected to is in fact quite rare,” she added. “That doesn’t however in any way diminish the tremendous anxiety and distress that was so obviously caused to her and her family by a laboratory mistake that should never be allowed to happen. Now that the Trust involved has been held to account for its failings, it is hoped that my client will be able to continue rebuilding her life.”

After liability was admitted, Jacqui settled the claim on behalf of her client for £105,000 in September 2013.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to medical negligence.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.