Dominic Fairclough acted for PM, who received £850,000 in compensation for a delay in diagnosing a cancerous rectal polyp. 

Background

PM was 25 when he first came under the care of the Defendant (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust). He was seen for rectal bleeding and painful defecation thirteen times over a number of years but it was alleged that staff failed to perform digital rectal examinations or rigid sigmoidoscopies on a number of those occasions.

A colonoscopy eventually showed a polyp in the rectum and this was found to be adenocarcinoma (a form of cancer) of the rectum.

Surgery was performed to remove the cancer and insert a stoma (an opening in the abdominal wall through which stool can pass into a bag, instead of coming out of the rectum/anus). PM also required chemotherapy. The stoma was ultimately reversed but PM was left with various symptoms.

Allegations

PM argued that the Defendant failed to properly investigate the cause of his symptoms and that, had the polyp been found earlier, it would probably not have been malignant (or if it was, then he would have been able to have less invasive surgery and avoid chemotherapy altogether).

The Defendant denied liability in the case initially but eventually admitted that its negligence had caused the need for chemotherapy. It did not admit that less invasive surgery could have been performed with earlier diagnosis.

Injuries

PM was left with frequent and urgent bowel movements and periodic faecal incontinence. He had significant abdominal scarring and was at risk of adhesions and incisional hernias. The nature of PM’s injuries had devastating consequences for him as a gay man.

PM also suffered from erectile dysfunction as a result of the surgery, which led to the breakdown of his relationship. He had difficulty maintaining other relationships and developed depression.

Compensation

An out of court settlement was agreed for £850,000. This included compensation for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and care.