Woman Wrongly Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Seeks Legal Action Against Hospital

| by Jonathan Constante
Elizabeth Dawes.Elizabeth Dawes.

A British nurse who was mistakenly diagnosed with breast cancer at the hospital where she worked underwent multiple surgeries only to find out four days later that she never had cancer.

A mix-up at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, England left Elizabeth Dawes, 39, traumatized and scarred for life.

Dawes was told in July 2013 that she had invasive stage 3 breast cancer and needed immediate surgery, Daily Mail reported.

Doctors suggested a double mastectomy, but Dawes refused. She agreed to have the “cancerous” tumor from her right breast removed and to remove lymph nodes from her armpit.

Following those procedures, Dawes was told she needed further surgery to correct “deformities” to her right breast caused by the first operation.

But four days later, Dawes got some disturbing news.

The mother of one was instructed to set an appointment with her consultant. There, she was told there had been a mistake at the hospital and that she never had cancer.

Hospital staff had apparently confused the notes of three patients.

“I am absolutely appalled at what I have been through and am still struggling to comprehend how this could even happen,” Dawes told Daily Mail. “To be told you are facing aggressive cancer in your 30s is devastating and of course, I feared the worst and began making plans for my child, and getting my finances in order.

“I was willing to undergo whatever treatment it took to fight the cancer so when I was told I needed surgery, I didn’t think twice.”

Dawes added that the incident left her so traumatized, she had to quit her job at New Cross Hospital.

“The doctor also told me I would need a bilateral breast lift to cosmetically improve the shape of my breasts, as otherwise, after having the cancer surgery I would be left deformed,” Dawes explained. “I was very sore after the operation and shocked by the extensive scarring, so to be recalled four days later to be told none of it was necessary was truly horrendous.”

“I am still in pain now, have lost a lot of sensation in my breasts and the scarring has not improved, which hugely affects my self-confidence,” Dawes continued. “Nothing can make up for what has happened but I am determined to see justice done and feel I at least deserve an official apology from the trust given the huge impact this has had on my life.”

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has admitted liability for the misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgical procedures performed.

“This is a truly shocking case that has left Elizabeth appalled at the unnecessary heartache, and extensive scarring she has suffered as a result of being wrongfully told that she had breast cancer,” attorney Louise Hawkley told the Daily Mail. “There are also very serious patient safety concerns about the ‘mix-up’ and how the other patients have potentially been affected too.”

“It is also vital that the trust identifies what improvements can be made to ensure that this never happens again to improve patient safety at the hospital,” Hawley added.

A trust spokesman issued the following statement to Daily Mail:

“The medical director and nurse director met with Ms. Dawes to offer an unreserved apology for this terrible error and inform her of the trust’s investigation into the incident. The findings of the investigation were shared with Ms. Dawes and a further apology offered at that time. The incident is now part of an ongoing legal claim with which the trust is cooperating fully. The trust can confirm that no other patient received inappropriate treatment as a result of this incident.”

Sources: Daily Mail, The Telegraph

Photo Credit: Supplied Via Daily Mail