Hospital apologises after cancer misdiagnosis

Robert Taylor who was left shocked after his father Harold Taylor's cancer misdiagnosis.
Robert Taylor who was left shocked after his father Harold Taylor's cancer misdiagnosis.

THE FURIOUS son of a pensioner who was wrongly diagnosed with cancer by a hospital doctor is considering taking legal action.

Harold Taylor, 84, of Fern Avenue, Staveley, went into Chesterfield Royal Hospital with breathing difficulties and underwent a scan before his family was told he had lung cancer, and son Robert claims he was given months to live.

But about two weeks later the family was told Mr Taylor did not have cancer but has slowly resolving pneumonia.

Robert, of Old Whittington, Chesterfield, said: “They called my sister Marie in and told her dad had cancer and had months to live. She was in tears. The family was devastated and my sister started planning dad’s funeral and emptying his bungalow.”

Former Coalite worker Harold suffers with angina and had a stroke in 2006 and has been in hospital before with pneumonia, according to Robert.

But Robert told how about eight weeks ago Harold started wheezing and was admitted to hospital where a shadow was found on one of his lungs and he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

The family was told in May but after a bronchoscopy and biopsy they were told cancer had been ruled out in favour of a slowly resolving pneumonia.

Robert said they received a hospital letter with an apology stating an investigation had been launched. Robert told how the hospital and Dr Pervaiz Iqbal, who was overseeing the treatment, apologised in a second letter. Robert is seeking possible compensation.

Chief executive at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Gavin Boyle said: “I am truly sorry for the distress Mr Taylor and his family have been caused.”

He added: “We completely understand how worrying it is when a loved one is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Although initial findings were suggestive of cancer, discussing this with Mr Taylor’s family before all the test results were known has caused them additional undue worry and anxiety – and we offer our sincere apologies for this.

“I know Mr Taylor has had an opportunity to discuss his father’s care with a number of our senior medical and nursing staff and we would be pleased to see him again if he feels there are issues we have not yet resolved.

“It is always deeply upsetting when mistakes are made, but when they do [happen], we are truthful and open. We take every incident seriously and act immediately to prevent the same things happening again.

“Whilst we know we cannot change Mr Taylor’s experience, we hope he is reassured by our honesty and our pledge to learn from what happened in this case.

“The medical team has already taken steps to ensure communication with patients’ families changes and improves so there are fewer opportunities for misunderstandings to arise.

“We need to ensure that relatives are only given a diagnosis when we have all the available facts to hand – and are assured that they offer a complete clinical picture for that diagnosis.”

The trust confirmed that Mr Taylor had lodged a formal complaint with them in May – and that both the clinical director for medicine and the chief nurse had met with him to discuss his concerns about his father’s provisional diagnosis and treatment.

He had also had the opportunity to meet two of the Royal’s senior matrons, to talk through the issues he had raised about nursing care and standards on the ward.

In a letter of apology earlier this month, the Royal’s chief nurse Alfonzo Tramontano had outlined the sequence of events that had led to the family being told that Mr Taylor had cancer on the May 17 - following a CT scan the day before.

Further tests - a bronchoscopy and biopsy – were then requested to establish a definitive diagnosis, and these were done on May 22. Results from these investigations and a detailed review of Mr Taylor’s case by a team of lung cancer specialists on May 28 confirmed he did not have the condition, but that he was suffering from an acute and slowly resolving pneumonia.