Cancer patient not told about diagnosis for three months

  • March 22, 2019
  • Despite having been diagnosed with cancer on 26 April, Beverly Smith (63) was not told that she had cancer until 11 July 2018, the week before she died.

    In a joint statement, Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust and Derriford Hospital apologised for the distress caused to the family and acknowledged that “communication can be a challenge with other health care providers and we are working together to ensure that we get this right every time for our patients”.

    Three months before action was taken

    Prior to her passing, Beverly had been cared for by her son Ben after she was paralysed from the chest down as a result of a road traffic accident in 1972. She was diagnosed with cancer following a bone biopsy taken at Derriford Hospital on 14 March 2018 as part of a series of procedures being performed on her hip.

    It was only after being informed that she had cancer on 11 July that she was sent for a CT scan on 17 July 2018. The CT scan revealed that the cancer was terminal and there was no chance of recovery.

    Ben took his mum home on 20 July 2018 where she passed away two days later.

    The care provided was below the expectations of the family and the Trust

    In the three months following the diagnosis, Beverly underwent a further two operations on her hip and extensive further treatment, which were unnecessary in light of her terminal illness.

    Her son said: “If we had known she had cancer they wouldn’t have had to do all the invasive treatments, the injections, blood tests every day – twice a day sometimes”.

    Had Beverly been informed of the diagnosis, her family would have taken her home for her final few months, where she would have had the opportunity to say goodbye to her grandchildren.

    The Trust and Derriford Hospital commented: “We would like to sincerely apologise for the distress that Mrs Smith’s family have been caused … We are sorry that the care Mrs Smith received was below both her family’s and the Trusts expectations”.

    Amrit Dhaliwal, an Associate Solicitor from the Medical Accident Group said: “It is concerning that Mrs Smith was diagnosed with cancer in April but was not informed until three months later. At that point, she had a CT scan which showed the cancer was terminal. Had the scan been carried out earlier, she may have been able to spend her final months at home with her family, instead of undergoing further invasive treatment unnecessarily”.

    We deal with all areas of medical negligence including negligent treatment following a cancer diagnosis. If you or someone you know has had a delay in being informed of a diagnosis or have lost a loved one due to their condition not being managed correctly then please contact us. If you believe you have a claim, call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or email us at

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