Medical Negligence

Man receives £100K in compensation after he lost his ear due to skin cancer misdiagnosis

October 5, 2023
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The Incident 

In January 2018, our client attended his GP with a suspicious-looking growth on his right ear. He was reviewed by an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) doctor at a Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust hospital. Here, a biopsy was taken, and he was diagnosed with skin cancer. This diagnosis led to his right ear being removed.   

Despite the ear being removed, our client later developed a lesion on his back and penile base in March 2018. Skin cancer was suspected of the lesion on his back, and this was surgically removed. However, the biopsy of the lesion on his penile base confirmed that this was not skin cancer. Our client had been misdiagnosed, which led to a series of incidents which could otherwise have been avoided. 

 

The Case 

Our client instructed us as he was later diagnosed with pyoderma gangrenosum (an inflammatory skin disorder). Following his own research into the condition, he insisted that he should have been diagnosed and treated sooner.  Fletchers’ medical negligence solicitor, Peter Daly, took on the case. 

Initially, the ENT evidence obtained was unsupportive of a medical negligence claim. The expert had advised that the treatment for his right ear was adequate and there was no breach of duty in the delay in treating and diagnosing pyoderma gangrenosum.   

 Despite the expert evidence obtained, our client continued to suffer with wound breakdown – this means the incision made during surgery kept reopening. In light of our client’s instructions, we investigated his case further and established that our client had never suffered with skin cancer; but rather the wound to his ear, back and penile base were all as a consequence of pyoderma gangrenosum. This ultimately meant that his ear was unnecessarily removed.    

A histopathologist (someone who studies organs, tissues and cells) was instructed and confirmed that the cancer misdiagnosis was not negligent. But after liaising with an expert dermatologist, we were able to prove that the pyoderma gangrenosum ought to have been diagnosed and treated two years earlier. And this did fall under the category of negligence.  

As a result of the misdiagnosis, our client suffered a series of injuries which included: 

  • Significant destructive changes to the area around his ear, which could have been avoided 
  • Discomfort and distress due to the failure to diagnose and treat the condition 
  • The pyoderma gangrenosum would not have developed to areas on his right temple, left cheek, left ear and anterior chest wall, or would have been significantly limited in size and more responsive to topical therapy  
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder as a result of becoming “institutionalised” from the prolonged period of time as an inpatient during a 2-year period  

 

The Outcome 

The case was eventually settled, and our expert team was able to help secure £100,000 in compensation for our client. The case was settled without any formal response from the defendant. 

In response to the settlement, solicitor Peter Daly said:  

“This client’s case was very intriguing as he suffered from a rare skin condition (2 in 200,000 chance) which appeared to take an excessive amount of time to be adequately diagnosed and treated.  

“Concerningly, our client was initially diagnosed with skin cancer following a suspicious looking growth, yet after the removal of his ear, he continued to develop lesions on his body.  

“We initially obtained unsupportive medical evidence from a medical expert, indicating that the treatment he was subject to, was adequate. However, whilst respectful of the medical expert’s findings, the opinion provided did not sit right, in the context of continuous wound breakdown.  

“We instructed further medical experts and eventually got to the bottom of the treatment our client was subject to. As suspected, our client was misdiagnosed with skin cancer – although due to the rareness of pyoderma gangrenous, this was not a negligent misdiagnosis.   

“However, it was clear that our client ought to have been diagnosed and treated for pyoderma gangrenosum as soon as March 2018. Instead, he was not diagnosed and treated until November 2019 – some 20 months later. 

“This was an extremely difficult time for our client. As he describes, he became ‘institutionalised’, as he was constantly in hospital for a prolonged period. He was unable to make a return to work and he was unable to return to Molineux to watch his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers.  Once more, he himself carried out his own research and informed the hospital that he felt he was suffering with pyoderma gangrenosum.   

“As part of the settlement, we successfully recovered two years lost earnings, as whilst our client was unemployed at the time of the negligence, it was always his plan to return to work and he was denied this through inadequate treatment.  

“We are delighted with this outcome, as the settlement vindicates his concerns all along. It confirms that he was correct in raising his concerns, that not only did he have pyoderma gangrenosum, but there was an unreasonable delay in diagnosing and treating the same.” 

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