Our clinical negligence solicitors investigated the medication dispensing error made by an NHS trust, which had resulted in the death of Mrs O.

Mrs O was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy procedure in the same month. She began chemotherapy a few months later, completing four courses of treatment. During this time she was identified as someone who may benefit from treatment with the drug Herceptin, to reduce the chance of recurrence of cancer in the future.

Herceptin is a drug that has a potential risk of reducing cardiac function, and was raised as a concern before prescribing it to our client. A heart function test was ordered to make sure it was safe to begin the Herceptin treatment, which showed Mrs O had an impaired heart function. It was decided that it would be delayed to seek the opinion of a cardiologist. However, before a cardiologist reviewed Mrs O’s case, she was administered three doses of Herceptin.

In the same month that Mrs O was prescribed the Herceptin, she was diagnosed as having suffered early congestive heart failure. Her condition progressively worsened, and the only treatment available was of a palliative nature. Sadly, she died in a matter of months, despite her most recent oncology review finding that she was cancer free.

Our clinical negligence solicitors investigated Mrs O’s family’s concerns, and we were able to offer an independent review of her tragic death. We investigated the family’s concerns in respect of Mrs O’s care from the hospital, and obtained independent expert evidence. The evidence supported our case that she should never have been prescribed Herceptin due to her low cardiac function. The NICE guidelines, had they been consulted, clearly stated that a person with her cardiac function should not be treated with this particular medication. We also gathered independent evidence that if it wasn’t for the prescription of Herceptin, Mrs O’s heart function would not have deteriorated; she would not have passed away when she did; and she was likely to completely survive the breast cancer, with an unaffected life expectancy.

Mrs O’s family had made an NHS complaint, but had not received any acknowledgment or apology for the care that was provided. By investigating the concerns on their behalf, and securing an independent review, the family were able to have their questions about their mother’s treatment answered by independent experts. Following this review they received acknowledgement from the NHS trust that they were at fault. They were also able to draw attention to the risks associated with Herceptin with the hope that other families wouldn’t have to suffer the loss that they had.

They received £30,000 compensation on behalf of Mrs O’s estate. No amount of compensation could ever have been enough to compensate them for their tragic loss. However, this compensation is the best that our jurisdiction can offer a family in these circumstances.

For further information

To find out more about how we can provide support with medication dispensing errors please contact us.