Delay in diagnosing basal cell carcinoma

In 2013 Mr Gazzard acted for a client aged 71 who had suffered from blepharitis and required lubricants to relieve symptoms in her left eye.  She was seen by several different specialists at the defendant hospital but no follow-up was arranged.

In January 2009 the Client was re-referred to the same hospital and a slight lateral ectropian of the left lower lid was noted and some asymmetry.  Another diagnosis of blepharitis was made and drops prescribed for a dry eye.  Two months later she was seen by a different Registrar who after noting a 10mm lid margin, loss of lashes, slight lateral ectropian and telangiectasia recommended a biopsy to exclude a carcinoma.

Due to a breakdown in communication the planned biopsy did not proceed and after seeing two more Consultants the client was discharged on the basis that there had been no great change in her condition and that she was still suffering from blepharitis.  After losing confidence in the hospital the client insisted on a referral to another hospital, where she was seen on 14th October 2010.   After noting the unilateral pathology a biopsy was performed 11 days later and a basal cell carcinoma confirmed.  Further surgery was then organised to excise the carcinoma and perform a reconstruction and Hughes’ flap.

After obtaining a report from a Harley Street specialist court proceedings were issued.  Although it was possible to prove some delay in treatment the hospital did not accept full responsibility for an early biopsy and argued that most, if not all, of the client’s treatment would have been necessary in any event.  Consequently the case was settled without the need for a trial in the sum of £10,000.00.