Case study: £99,000 for delay in diagnosis of pelvic tumour

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Our medical negligence solicitors acted for a client who suffered a spontaneous pelvic fracture as a result of an undiagnosed pelvic tumour measuring 16cm.

Visits to the GP with back and buttock pain

In May 2015, our client, Mr C, developed severe pain in his lower back and buttock. He was 67 years old at the time, and an active individual, enjoying regular long walks.

Mr C saw his GP about this pain, which was diagnosed as sciatica and he was instructed to complete stretching exercises. Unfortunately, Mr C’s pain did not resolve and continued to worsen despite anti-inflammatory and opiate medication.

Physiotherapy for sciatica

In December 2015, Mr C’s GP referred him for physiotherapy and he was seen as an outpatient in hospital by an Orthopaedic Physiotherapist practitioner and diagnosed with recurrent sciatica.

Following another flare-up in May 2016, Mr C attended the physiotherapy clinic again where he was treated with anti-inflammatory medication. Following an MRI scan in September 2016, our client was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease.

Return to GP with worsening pain

Mr C visited his GP in February 2017 reporting ongoing pain in his right lower back, groin and thigh which was now affecting his mobility. He was referred back to physiotherapy and subsequently for a hip X-ray.

The hip X-ray was undertaken later in February 2017 and reported by a consultant radiologist who identified no significant bone or joint abnormality.

Referral to the pain management clinic

Mr C continued to experience significant pain which persisted despite various analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications. Mr C saw his GP again and, due to the ongoing pain, was referred to the pain management clinic.

In April 2017, our client underwent an inter-laminar epidural injection and a facet joint injection of local anaesthetic and steroid at the pain management clinic. Following this treatment, Mr C noticed a slight reduction in his pain levels, however, he still required daily anti-inflammatory medication and analgesia.

Development of a lump and debilitating pain

In May 2017, Mr C developed a lump in his right buttock along with the recurrence of debilitating pain which radiated from his right buttock down to his right knee and which was significantly impacting his ability to walk. Mr C visited his GP yet again and was referred for urgent scans to investigate the swelling.

Spontaneous hip fracture and hospitalisation

In June 2017, before the urgent scans took place, Mr C experienced severe pain in his hip whilst dressing which was accompanied by a cracking sound. Mr C’s pain was so severe that he called an ambulance and was admitted to hospital.

In hospital, Mr C had a CT scan which revealed a 16-centimetre mass in the iliac blade which, due to its progressive growth, had fractured the bone and caused erosion of the hip joint. Following an ultrasound-guided biopsy in July 2017, Mr C was diagnosed with a solitary bone plasmacytoma, a rare type of tumour made up of plasma cells.

Claim for delayed diagnosis

Mr C approached us to pursue a medical negligence claim in May 2019 to investigate whether there was a failure to identify his pelvic tumour on his MRI scan in September 2016 and his hip X-ray in February 2017.

Our solicitors instructed experts in the fields of Radiology, General Practice, Oncology and Physiotherapy.

The Oncology expert concluded that there had been a nine-month delay in diagnosis of Mr C’s pelvic mass, and this delay had prevented Mr C from seeking earlier treatment, resulting in prolonged suffering. Subsequently, we received the Radiology expert’s opinion, which concluded that a very clear breach of duty existed in that the pelvic mass was clearly visible on both the MRI examination undertaken in September 2016 and the X-rays taken in February 2017.

Following receipt of our expert evidence, Letters of Claim were served in August 2020 on both Defendants; the Radiologist who interpreted the MRI scan of May 2016 and the NHS Trust where the X-rays in February 2017 took place.

The NHS Trust denied liability in full on the basis that, in their view, the lesion was not visible on the X-ray in February 2017 due to bowel gas obscuring the images.

The radiologist did not respond and, at the beginning of 2021, it became clear that the first Defendant was delaying the progress of the claim and, as such, our Medical Negligence team had no choice but to issue court proceedings to protect our client’s position.

We obtained further expert evidence addressing Mr C’s prognosis from experts in Oncology, Psychiatry and Orthopaedics which confirmed that, with an earlier diagnosis, Mr C would have avoided the bone fracture, soft tissue involvement and a mild depressive episode.

It was determined that the development of a secondary pancreatic plasmacytoma was not causally linked to the negligence and would have occurred in any event.

Settlement of the negligence claim

The NHS Trust filed its Defence in September 2022; however, the Radiologist did not file a defence. Nevertheless, negotiations did eventually take place and a compromise was reached. The claim was settled out of court in December 2022 for £99,000.

Further information

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of delayed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis, our specialist medical negligence solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation.

We work with clients across England and Wales from our five offices in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Get in touch by calling 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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