According to the Irish Cancer Society, every three minutes someone receives a diagnosis of cancer, and every hour, one person dies as a result of the disease. Unfortunately, the prevalence of cancer has been increasing, and it is now expected that half of the population will have cancer in their lifetime. The most common cancers in Ireland are (in order), skin, prostate, breast, bowel, and lung.
A great deal of funding has been put into the screening and discovery of new treatments, and as a result, the survivability of cancer is ever improving. In Ireland, there are three screening programmes currently in place; breast, cervical, and bowel. For breast screening, women between 50 and 67 are invited for mammograms every two years. Smear tests are available for women from the age of 25 to 60, to provide early detection of cervical cancer. The new bowel screening programme (BowelScreen) is available to men and women between 60 and 69; this test can be completed at home using a FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test). If signs of blood are found (which occurs in 5% of tests), the individual will be invited for a colonoscopy.
Screening provides a powerful opportunity to detect signs of common cancers early.
What constitutes cancer medical negligence?
Any patient presenting with symptoms of cancer to their GP, A&E or any other point of entry into the health system should be referred for follow-up assessment. If cancer is found, a treatment plan must then be urgently put in place and commenced.
There are a number of scenarios which may be deemed as medically negligent when it comes to cancer:
- Failure to spot signs and symptoms of cancer
- Not referring to a specialist if cancer is suspected
- Not being seen within a targeted timescale after referral
- Failure to commence treatment within a targeted timescale
- No diagnosis (or an incorrect diagnosis) of cancer
- Putting in place an incorrect treatment plan
- Not monitoring the status of cancer and making appropriate changes to the treatment regime
- Errors during surgery
- Not explaining the risks of cancer treatment
What are the implications of cancer medical negligence?
The failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner can mean the disease progresses to a more acute stage before it is found. With each passing day that cancer goes undetected or untreated, it is able to cause more damage. While some cancers are slow growing, and some are more curable than others, any delay can make the difference between curative and palliative treatment.
In practical terms, this may necessitate more radical and urgent treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, than that which would otherwise have been required. For example, in the case of bowel cancer, if this can be detected in its first stage, it may be possible to remove a polyp which may become cancerous or develop further. But left another few months, cancer may spread beyond the colon to local lymph nodes and ultimately distant organs. There are many treatment options for those with more advanced cancer, however, the opportunity to be cured may be lost if cancer diagnosis or treatment is delayed.
Can I bring a claim for cancer medical negligence?
To bring a claim for cancer medical negligence, it will be necessary to provide evidence that:
- The medical care you received was below a satisfactory standard (i.e. that another medical professional would not have made the same error), and;
- This negligence caused you damage or injury.
To prove your case, we will compile evidence including medical records, and seek expert medical opinion.
What may a cancer medical negligence injury claim cover?
Claims following cancer medical negligence may cover two areas of loss:
- Pain and suffering due to cancer; and
Specific costs relating to cancer. This may cover costs already incurred, such as transport, accommodation, medical treatment, and expected future costs such as loss of earnings and care needs.
The costs you receive will be based on the precise injury suffered and the circumstances of the case.
How Lavelle Partners Medical Negligence Solicitors can assist you in bringing a claim.
- Lavelle Partners have successfully managed many cases of injury or disease caused by cancer medical negligence.
- Our personal injury team, headed by a partner, Avril Scally, who herself has over 15 years’ experience in medical negligence claims, place client care at the centre of everything they do.
- From the first moment you speak to one of our solicitors, we will listen to your case carefully and with empathy and will only recommend advancing your case if we believe you have a valid claim.
- We have both the legal expertise and understanding of the real-life challenges faced by individuals and their families following such events.
- Our solicitors will manage the process entirely on your behalf; compiling the information necessary for your case, including medical notes and managing the submission of your medical negligence claim.
By entrusting us to handle your claim on your behalf, you can focus on what is most important, your recovery and care, or that of your family member or loved one.
For further information on making a claim for cancer medical negligence in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800 or email Avril Scally at [email protected]